$5.1 million grant will fund research to develop a stem cell-based therapy for blinding eye condition
Scientists at the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research and the Stein Eye Institute have been awarded a $5.1 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to advance the development of a novel therapy for blinding retinal conditions.
The award by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, or CIRM, will support the development of a treatment that will use patients’ own skin cells to generate autologous induced pluripotent stem cells to derive retinal pigment epithelium cells, which are lost in many blinding eye conditions. The team, led by Dr. Steven Schwartz, will use the grant to drive the promising therapy to the next critical step toward a clinical trial in humans, submitting an investigational new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration.
“We’re grateful to CIRM and the people of California for this grant, which will allow our team to translate our research into a treatment for major causes of untreatable blindness such as macular degeneration,” said Schwartz, Ahmanson professor of ophthalmology and chief of the retina division at the UCLA Stein Eye Institute. “This pivotal investment brings hope to countless patients and families suffering with blinding eye disease.” Retinal diseases affecting the center of vision, also called maculopathies, are the leading cause of blindness in the developed world and affect more than 10 percent of the U.S. population over 65. The number of people affected by this untreatable group of disorders, such as age related and myopic macular degeneration, and Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, is expected to increase to nearly 20 million in the nation by 2020…..