NYSCF Innovator Pioneers Treatment To Restore Vision In Macular Degeneration Patients

Thanks to a groundbreaking new stem cell treatment, patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are getting their sight back.

This treatment was pioneered by the inaugural NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Prize Recipient Dr. Peter Coffey, DPhil, and his colleagues at University College London and the University of California, Santa Barbara. The results of the study were published this week in Nature Biotechnology.

AMD causes vision loss due to the degeneration of cells in the macula (the part of the eye that lets you see objects straight ahead of you). Dr. Coffey and his collaborators found a way to surgically implant an ultra-thin patch containing non-diseased cells made from stem cells behind the eye’s rods and cones. When the patch integrates into the eye, the degenerating cells are replaced and sight is restored.

Two patients received the treatment in clinical trials, and both have experienced marked vision improvement. One patient, an 86-year-old man, reports that while he once couldn’t see out of his right eye at all, he can now see well enough to read the paper. The other patient, a woman in her early sixties, could once only read the largest letter at the apex of an eye chart. She can now read a line much further down, containing six small letters. Both have maintained their improved vision for a year.

This study demonstrates the potential for regenerative medicine to restore function and help patients return to normal life. Next, the researchers will continue their clinical trial by implanting the patch into 8 more participants. Should the treatment continue to show positive results, it is their hope that it will one day be widely available for patients everywhere.

For additional coverage, check out this article from BBC News.

Diseases & Conditions:

Macular Degeneration, Stem Cell Biology

People mentioned: