Scientists have successfully restored the vision of two UK patients with age-related macular degeneration
By: Tom Bawden
A cure for the most common cause of blindness could be available on the NHS within five years – thanks to a groundbreaking new kind of medicine involving embryonic stem cells. Scientists have successfully restored the vision of two UK patients with age-related macular degeneration by inserting a patch of embryonic stem cells into their eyes to repair damage to the retina.
And while more research is needed to confirm the treatment’s effectiveness, the research team hope an “affordable, off-the-shelf therapy” could be made available to NHS patients within five years.
“The patients are now three years in and they’re still seeing really well – which for any medicine is phenomenal,” said University College London Professor Pete Coffey, who was part of the project.
“It has given a really good indication that this kind of stem cell approach works and helped galvanise the medical community,” he added.
Two decades after scientists invented a new field of medicine by cracking the riddle of how to separate stem cells from a human embryo, the first round of treatments look to be just round the corner, scientists say.
Apart from the blindness embryonic stem cell therapy, promising treatments for spinal cord injury, heart failure, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease and lung cancer are also in advanced trials around the world.
“Remarkable new regenerative applications of stem cells are beginning to realize the promise for revolutionary new therapies first identified 20 years ago,” said Professor Tim Camp, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Source: i News