Scientists seek to restore vision
6 June 2007 00:00 in Industry related health news
Scientists are to use stem cells in groundbreaking trials to restore vision in patients who suffer blindness through age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Under a new collaboration, scientists and clinicians from Moorfields Eye Hospital, the University College London (UCL) Institute of Ophthalmology, and the University of Sheffield will use cells derived from human embryonic stem cells to replace the faulty retinal cells that cause AMD.
The London Project to Cure AMD, which has been funded by an anonymous four million pound donation, will now seek to move their technique from the laboratory to clinical trials within five years.
They believe the technique is capable of stabilising and restoring vision in the vast majority of AMD patients.
Surgical procedures have already been developed and trialled in a number of patients using their own cells which demonstrated that cell replacement therapy can work.
"Using stem cells - which are far more adaptable - can only improve success of what has already been achieved and in addition establish this as a global therapy," said Professor Pete Coffey, director of the London Project.
"This is achievable as a result of bringing together a number of groups who previously were trying to solve the same problem in isolation."
Professor Alistair Fielder, senior medical adviser of Fight for Sight, the leading eye research charity, said he was "excited" about the trials.
"The London Project represents a real chance to tackle this untreatable condition and bring hope to many. It is marvellous to think that clinical trials could start within five years."
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Story collated for Zenopa by the Adfero News Agency