Stem-Cell Cure for Blindness: Just Six Years Away
April 19, 2009
(ChattahBox)—In just six years time, many blind patients will once again be able to see the faces of their loved ones, according to British researchers, who pioneered a new stem-cell treatment that can restore sight. Researchers from London’s University College and Moorfields Eye Hospital focused on age-related macular degeneration, the world’s most common cause of blindness. Using embryonic stem-cells, the researchers developed an artificial membrane to replace diseased eye-cells with great success.
Lead researchers Pete Coffey and Lyndon da Cruz used embryonic stem-cells to grow replicas of the bad cells on a thin artificial membrane, inserting it behind the retina of pigs and rats, restoring normal sight. The excited researchers say human trials are just two-years away, which will be only the second human trial using embryonic stem-cells in the world behind the U.S.
The research is so promising, Pfizer, a pharmaceutical giant, has offered the financial backing necessary to bring the new treatment to the public in record time. Researchers expect the new treatment on the market in six-years. The treatment, once safely manufactured, would be available as a quick one-hour outpatient treatment.
Although the use of embryonic stem-cells is controversial, it offers hope for a normal life to many sufferers of devastating conditions who until now, had no expectation of a cure. The U.S. is set to conduct a human clinical trial later this year, using embryonic stem cells to treat patients with spinal cord injuries.
Macular Degeneration affects 25-30 million people around the world, causing debilitating blindness, with more than 1.75 million sufferers in the U.S. This new stem-cell treatment holds great promise to restore the sight of millions, offering them once again an opportunity to embrace all that life has to offer.
Exciting times are ahead in the advancements of medical science using stem-cells.