The retina of a 70-year-old woman suffering from macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. The otherwise routine surgery was radical because scientists had grown the replacement retina in a petri dish, using skin scraped from the patient’s arm. This is the first -ever retina transplant.This is wonderful research that can help those that have macular degeneration and other eye diseases.- MDA

JOVANA DRINJAKOVIC Contributed to The Globe and Mail Published 

Transplant doctors are stepping gingerly into a new world, one month after a Japanese woman received the first-ever tissue retina transplant using stem cells that came from her own skin, not an embryo.

On Sept. 12, doctors in a Kobe hospital replaced the retina of a 70-year-old woman suffering from macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. The otherwise routine surgery was radical because scientists had grown the replacement retina in a petri dish, using skin scraped from the patient’s arm.

Stem cells have long held great promise for patients with degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and cancer, which can only be reversed by replacing old tissue with new. But for years, scientists could only use stem cells drawn from embryos. The ethical and religious debates surrounding such potential procedures had hampered stem-cell research for years.

The most exciting thing about the Kobe procedure was that it showed that stem cells made from a patient’s skin can be used to create genetically identical replacement tissue, says Dr. Janet Rossant, the chief of research at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and the past president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

The Japanese woman is fine and her retinal implant remains in place. Researchers around the world are now hoping to test other stem-cell-derived tissues in therapy. Dr. Jeanne Loring from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., expects to get approval within a few years to see whether neurons derived from stem cells can be used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Stem cells have two key features: They can divide indefinitely, and they can turn into any other cell type in the body, in what is known as pluripotency…..

read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/successful-retina-transplant-sparks-hope/article21270294/

 

Source: The Globe and Mail

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