Two studies presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) 2017 Meeting by the Hadassah-Hebrew University of Jerusalem1 and the y Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of Miami2 demonstrate the safety of cell therapy in 6 and 20 patients with atrophic age-related macular degeneration (AMD) respectively. This pathology involves the dysfunction and the degeneration of the cells of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), which play a key role in the visual cycle together with photoreceptors. In the studies, human embryonic stem cells were used in order to distinguish them from RPE and they were subsequently implanted through a subretinal injection in the eyes of patients who suffer from the condition. In a few weeks, the affected retina showed signs of recovery and the transplanted cells were seen to survive. The patients’ sight remained stable during the studies and there were no side effects. Experts in regenerative medicine believe that atrophic AMD will be one of the initial areas of success with regard to the use of stem cells.
1Phase 1 and 2a Study of Human Embryonic Stem Cell–Derived Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells Transplanted Subretinally in Advanced Dry-Form AMD Patients.
2Long-term Outcomes of Human Embryonic Stem Cell–Derived Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cell Transplantation for Retinal Degeneration from 2 Phase 1/2 Trials.