Stem cell therapy works in blind patients in first trial

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Scientists have improved the sight of two people who were almost blind by injecting their eyes with stem cells from embryos.

The two women, both registered as blind, saw their vision improve in a matter of weeks after being given the embryo-derived cells in the US safety trial.

The breakthrough holds out the hope of a cure in the future for age-related macular degeneration, which currently affects some 500,000 people in Britain.
The results, published this week in The Lancet, provide a major boost for the field of stem cell reseach.

Professor Daniel Brison, of the North West Embryonic Stem Cell Centre in Manchester, said: “This is a very exciting moment for embryonic stem cell therapies.
This is the first peer-reviewed scientific report showing that cells derived from human embryonic stem cells can be transplanted safely into a patient with no sign of complications (…)


SCIENTISTS have partly reversed blindness in two patients after giving them a treatment based on human embryonic stem cells — a breakthrough experts hope could lead to the development of the first effective treatment for the world’s leading cause of vision loss.

A report published yesterday in The Lancet is the world’s first peer-reviewed account of the use of human embryonic stem cells in people for the treatment of any condition (…)

The US researchers reported that both women were able to count more letters on a visual acuity chart in the weeks after their treatment, in which one of each woman’s eyeballs was injected with 50,000 retinal cells grown in a laboratory from the embryonic stem cells.

The authors cautioned that they could not tell whether the reported improvements in the women’s sight were due to the treatment, to the immune-suppressing drugs they were given to prevent their bodies rejecting the cells, or to a placebo effect. While the purpose of the experiment was to see whether the injections might be safe – larger trials designed to prove safety and efficacy have yet to come – the US researchers say the findings suggest that transplanting cells derived from human embryonic stem cells into people might work (…)


EMBRYONIC stem cells have been used to treat human illness for the first time, improving the sight of two women with severe vision loss.

The controversial development could give hope to hundreds of thousands of people suffering macular degeneration – one of the most common forms of blindness in First World countries – and has been hailed a historic step by stem cell scientists.

In a US trial last year, two legally blind women reported sight improvements after receiving a small dose of embryonic stem cell transplantations in their eyes (…)


The first patients to receive human embryonic stem cell transplants say their lives have been transformed by the experimental procedure.

For the researchers at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute who launched the first-ever study to show that human embryonic stem cells may help reverse patients’ disease, the history-making day began at 4:30 a.m. It was an early morning wake-up call, to be sure, but a necessary one to prepare for the groundbreaking work that lay ahead. On July 12, 2011, the scientists injected retinal cells derived from embryonic stem cells into the eyes of two patients suffering from progressive blindness, and the results announced Monday suggest that the treatment has changed their lives (…)

The early results represent an important milestone for the field of embryonic stem cell research, which suffered a blow last year when Geron Corp. halted the first and only other U.S. government-approved stem cell trial in humans — for spinal cord injury patients — and announced that it would no longer pursue stem cell research due to financial reasons. ACT’s findings, while still preliminary, could pave the way for similar trials in the future and revive enthusiasm for the stem cell field. Many researchers hope that replacing diseased cells with healthy ones made from embryonic stem cells will someday become standard treatment for conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s or spinal cord injury (…)



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