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Home Home Wellness News Stem Cells Show Promise For Macular Degeneration
Stem Cells Show Promise For Macular Degeneration
Wellness - Latest Wellness News
Jupiter, FL Dentist

WEDNESDAY, April 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- A new stem cell transplant might help preserve or even restore vision being lost to the dry form of age-related macular degeneration, a new pilot clinical trial has shown.

In the experimental therapy, a specially engineered sheet of stem cells is transplanted into the back wall of the eye to replace a layer of cells destroyed by age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Vision loss appeared to halt in four of the first five people treated with the implant cells, researchers reported in the April 4 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The fifth patient actually experienced some improvement in vision, and was able to read 17 additional letters off a standard eye chart, said lead researcher Dr. Amir Kashani. He is assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine.

"We didn't really anticipate or expect dramatic improvement in vision," Kashani said. "That was a very encouraging sign."

Two other patients displayed improvement in their ability to focus or fixate on a target better than before surgery, he added.

"They could guide their vision to look at a certain location," Kashani said. "That's one of the prerequisites for being able to read or look somebody in the face, or doing those high-acuity kinds of tasks, so that was also very encouraging."

There currently is no cure or treatment for the dry form of AMD, which accounts for 80 percent to 90 percent of all cases, he noted.

The retina -- the light-sensitive tissue along the back of the eye wall -- is slowly destroyed as a result of AMD. As light-sensing cells die off, people's vision becomes blurry and distorted, and they begin to lose their central vision.

Age-related macular degeneration currently affects approximately 1.7 million Americans, and is projected to affect almost 3 million by 2020. It's a leading cause of severe visual impairment in adults older than 65.

The dry form of AMD involves the loss of a thin layer of cells beneath the retina called retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells, Kashani said.

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