First Human Trial for Macular Degeneration

Brown circle of retinal tissue from stem cells

It’s happened – as we reported in this blog post, the first human trials in treating age-related macular degeneration have taken place. A Japanese woman in her 70s is the first to have her own cells used to create an implantable retinal tissue.

This is not intended to restore vision that has already been lost, but instead to stop any further vision loss.

The procedure took two hours and happened pretty quickly (just four days) after the health-ministry committee cleared the way for the trial to take place. All went well, with the patient having no serious issues after surgery.

Scientists will be watching carefully to see how this goes, and how it can translate to other therapies. One of the positive outcomes of this procedure is seeing how well the stem cells do, given that they were harvested from the patient’s own cells and have none of the ethical issues around the use of embryonic stem cells.

The article was reported in Nature, the International weekly journal of science, and can be found here.


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