Vision is, undoubtedly, our most crucial sense; we count on it to successfully navigate our environment. Blindness has an enormous influence on a person’s life, but many of the conditions that cause it are difficult or impossible to treat right now. The causes of vision loss include glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and some other causes like injury or infections. Regenerative eye therapies could help people with glaucoma, macular degeneration, and damaged corneas save their eyesight. Researchers are now using stem cell technology to investigate potential new approaches to treating vision loss.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the predominant factor in vision loss and nearly 100,000 individuals over the age of 50 have AMD. There are two major types of this condition, which can impact the macula in the back of the eye. This area is in control of both central and comprehensive coloured vision.
Dry AMD is the most prevalent and mild form seen in people. On the other hand, wet AMD is less common, estimated to account for only about 10% of AMD patients. In such cases, fresh and leaking blood vessels form behind the retina and harm the macula, resulting in a sudden loss of vision.
Symptoms of AMD
Initially, you may not observe any symptoms of AMD until it has progressed to the point where both the eyes are affected. These signs of macular degeneration include:
- Deteriorated or unclear vision
- Variation in colour perceptions
- Dark and blurry spots in the center of your vision
The Successful Outcomes…
- Wet-AMD, if detected at an early stage, can be handled with therapeutic agents that halt the formation of leaky blood vessels, possibly preventing additional damage. Researchers, on the other hand, are constantly looking for new ways to treat macular degeneration. Stem cell therapy, for example, has the ability to replace or restore impaired cells at the back of the eye.
- The UK clinical trial seeks to regenerate damaged retinal cells by implanting a ‘patch’ of stem cells into patients with wet-AMD. RPE cells, which provide significant support and sustenance to our photoreceptor cells, were first produced from embryonic stem cells. This layer of fresh RPE was then implanted on a uniquely engineered stem cells patch and relocated into the back of the eye, known as the sub-retinal space.
- Two patients with severe wet-AMD were treated with the stem cell-based patch and were followed for a year. The researchers reported the patch’s effective outcome and survival in a recent publication. Both patients showed significant differences in their vision, as evaluated by their ability to read letters on a chart.
The findings indicate that this novel therapeutic approach is both safe and effective in terms of visual outcomes. The patients receiving the treatment had severe AMD, and their improved vision will help to enhance their quality of life. Although this is a small group of patients, we hope that the information gained from this study will help many more people in the future.
Whilst the treatment is still in its initial phases of development, such findings herald a revolutionary change in regenerative medicine. More research will be needed to fully assess the safety, tolerability, and effectiveness of AMD treatment in a wide range of patients.
The outcome of this research represents a significant step forward in tackling the presently unfulfilled necessity of improving treatments for macular degeneration, a condition that can have a massive effect on a person’s overall health.