Monday, April 20, 2009

Stem Cell cure for macular degeneration in the works

The following was provided by the AOA.

The UK's Daily Mail (4/19, Templeton) reported that scientists in the UK "have developed the world's first stem cell therapy to cure the most common cause of blindness," age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In fact, "surgeons predict it will become a routine, one-hour procedure that will be generally available in six or seven years' time." The new "treatment involves replacing a layer of degenerated cells with new ones created from embryonic stem cells," and was "pioneered by scientists and surgeons from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London and Moorfields eye hospital." Currently, the researchers are "applying for regulatory approval for trials from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the Human Tissue Authority, and the gene therapy advisory committee." The Daily Mail noted that "the clinical trial, due within two years, is expected to be the second in the world to use embryonic stem cells on humans."
About "30 million" people "around the world are affected by AMD, in which the part of the retina responsible for central vision gradually thins, leaving one in 10 sufferers totally blind," the UK's Telegraph (4/20, Jamieson) points out. "It is thought" that the stem cell "therapy could help those [with] both the 'dry' form of the condition, which is currently untreatable, and the 'wet' form, which can be mitigated with injections." This week, pharmaceutical maker "Pfizer is expected to announce financial backing for the therapy."

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