GREAT BRITAIN – Embryonic stem cells cure blindness in an hour

(Stem Cells News image)

After much hope and controversy, for the first time stem cells have proven to have the ability to cure blindness.

The news comes from a study on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) of the retina, the most common cause of blindness in individuals over the age of 50.

The Sunday Times reports that the treatment was developed by a group of British researchers, who say that in the next six to seven years the treatment will become a routine operation, which will not last more than an hour.

The treatment involves the replacement of a layer of degenerated cells with new cells created using embryonic stem cells, primitive cells that are able to transform into any type of human tissue.

AMD strikes the central area of the retina, the macula, which progressively deteriorates. Cloned retina cells are placed on an artificial membrane inserted into the posterior retina. The research was conducted by the department of ophthalmology of the University College of London and Morfields Hospital.

Ethical controversy is inevitable because in order to create this type of stem cells embryos are used, which is explicitly allowed by British legislation. American pharmaceutical group Pfizer, said the Times, is supporting the study.

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