Stem cell retinal implants are safe24th January 2012
A trial at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London has started in order to test the results of implanting stem cells in the eyes of patients with eye disorders.
Operations carried out on two patients in America involving retinal implants has shown that the procedure is safe, researchers said.
The operation involves taking healthy cells from an embryo which are then made to grow in the retina at the back of the eye.
The researchers think that the procedure could lead to improved sight in patients who have conditions such as Stargardt's disease, which cause blindness in young people.The researchers told The Lancet: "The ultimate therapeutic goal will be to treat patients earlier in the disease processes, potentially increasing the likelihood of photoreceptor and central visual rescue."
Dr Dusko Ilic, Senior Lecturer in Stem Cell Science at Kings College London, said that the early stages of the treatment did not necessarily mean a cure for blindness was possible.
"We should keep in mind that people are not rats. The number one priority of initial clinical trial is always patient safety."
"If everyone expects that the blind patients will see after being treated with human embryonic stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium, even if the treatment ends up being safe (which is what Advanced Cell Technology are trying to determine in this trial), they risk being unnecessarily disappointed."
UK stem cell expert Chris Mason added: "We do not have a complete answer yet. But it is a valuable next step."
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Title: Stem cell retinal implants are safe
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 20843
Date Added: 24th Jan 2012