British scientists have reportedly perfected the technique for curing macular-degeneration related blindness with adult stem cells. Returning Hope, a pioneering Asian adult stem cell treatment portal, expects to be one of the first in the world to offer the treatment.
Researchers from the Institute of Ophthalmology at London’s University College used embryonic eye stem cells to replace the layer of damaged eye cells. While Pfizer is backing the British push to bring the therapy to patients, Brian Dardzinski, CEO of Returning Hope, expects that Adult Stem Cell treatments will be available both much sooner and much cheaper in Thailand.
“We have been helping patients with Multiple Sclerosis, autism, brain injury, stroke, ALS and Parkinson’s find treatment in Thailand for some time now. Overseas health care providers have been saying that there are years needed to bring these treatments to patients – we are already helping them get back to a normal life”, said Mr. Dardzinski. “We can already help patients with some eye diseases, and macular degeneration patients will join them very shortly”.
Returning Hope currently offers autologous (derived from a patient’s own body) adult stem cell treatment for:
- Some eye diseases
- Neuromuscular degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, cerebral palsy and ALS
- Injuries like spinal cord injury, stroke and brain injury
- Diabetes, hair restoration, lung disease
In Britain, elements of the technology have been tested in both rats and pigs, sometimes with the same disease as occurs in humans, sometimes with a slight variant. In Asia, however, patients have already been helped regain their sight.
Justin, a 10 month old who recently underwent stem cell therapy for blindness, is now ‘Tracking objects … he’s never tracked anything at all before”, said his father. “We knew he had slight light perception, but now he follows a ball, he follows a toy”. When asked what he would say to other parents out there, Justin’s Dad said “If you think your child is a candidate, [stem cell therapy] is worth looking into, for sure”. He said he is definitely glad he did it.
In a related study. Researchers at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine have collected stem cells from human adult corneas, and restored transparency to mice corneas that were hazy and scarred. This technology circumvents the ethical trouble that the use of embryonic stem cells creates, however awaits testing on humans.
There are currently around 1.4 million people in the EU affected by macular degeneration, and as life expectancy increases, so is the number of people seeking treatment for vision loss.