First UK Patient Receives Stem Cell Treatment for Sight Loss - Dream Health

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Saturday 3 October 2015

First UK Patient Receives Stem Cell Treatment for Sight Loss

UK Patient – First to Receive New Stem Cell Treatment

A patient in UK has become the first to receive new stem cell treatment in savings her sight. The woman who had suffered from age related macular degeneration – AMD underwent a procedure known as retinol pigment epithelium at Moorefield’s Eye Hospital in London.

The eye cells derived from stem cells during the operation were utilised to replace the damaged AMD cells behind the retina which had formed a patch over the problem area. As per The London Project to Cure Blindness, the patient did not face any complication till date.

However the team behind the operation are unable to state if it was a true success till her recovery of being further examined in December. Macular degeneration is the cause of 50% of all cases of visual impairment in the developed countries and generally tends to affect those crossing the age of 50.

Around 25% of over 60s in the UK have been suffering from some type of degeneration which is likely to increase. Several of the patients suffering from AMD tend to find that their central vision gets affected while the vision around the edges seems to remain normal. There are two kinds of AMD namely, wet and dry.

Two Types of AMD - Wet/Dry AMD

Wet AMD is due to abnormal blood vessels which leak in the centre of the retina, while dry AMD is more common and takes place when the retinal cells tend to become too thin.

The operation seems to be a part of a broader trial which looks at the safety as well as the success rates of retinol pigment epithelium in persons suffering from wet AMD. However, learning from trials has given rise to the ability to treat patients suffering with dry AMD too.

It is said that ten more patients are likely to receive the treatment in the next 18 months and if their operations tends to get successful, the ground-breaking stem cell treatment could be utilised on a wider scale for AMD patients in the UK.

According to retinal surgeon professor, Lyndon Da Cruz from Moorfields Eye Hospital, who had performed the first surgery, states that `there is real potential that people with wet age related macular degeneration would benefit in the future from transplantation of these cells’.

Ability to be one of the First Extensive Application in Healthcare- UK

Professor Pete Coffey of the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology, co-leading the London Project to Cure Blindness adds that, they are very pleased to have reached this stage in the research for a new therapeutic approach.

Though they have recognised this clinical trial focuses on small group of AMD patients, experiencing sudden severe visual loss, they hope that many patients could benefit in the future. If the operation tends to be successful, it would represent a most important breakthrough for the Project, which is a partnership between Moorfields Eye Hospital, University College London, the National Institute for Health Research and Pfizer.

The involved organisations are hopeful that the stem cell trials would be sent to a regulatory review board for testing its efficacy and safety.

Though the application of stem cell technology has been explored in research environments for several years, covering all things from engineering new liver cells to making burgers, this treatment tend to have the ability to be one of the first extensive application in the healthcare in UK.

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