Has Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Found a Cure in the form of “Stem Cells”?

People who are the victims of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) can now get back your lost eye vision.

Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center have successfully demonstrated that retinal cells can be formed from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPS). hiPS cells are similar to the eye cells whose death causes loss of sight in macular degeneration patients.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), as the name suggests is a progressive disease with age that gradually destroys the sharp, central vision of the eye, which is essential to see objects clearly and perform daily activities like writing and reading.

AMD is one of the leading causes of blindness in most of the older Americans. In this disease, Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE), a dark layer of cells that provides nourishment to the visual cells is destroyed.

The current research aims at using the patient’s own stem cells to generate tissues and transplant them back to the affected area.

In order for the transplantation of the cells to be possible, researchers should first figure out how to program hiPS cells to gain the characteristics of and function as retinal pigment epithelium cells.

The researchers have moved ahead in this crucial step of this study.

They have produced hiPS-RPE cells with the functioning and characteristics of the RPE cells of eye. These cells have shown biochemical functions similar to those of RPE cells under specified and controlled conditions.

Although these cells could be the promising candidates in retinal regeneration therapy among AMD patients, there are some issues to be resolved before these can be transplanted.

During the course of experiment, it was observed that the chromosomes were damaged and cell growth arrested in hips-derived RPE cells.

According to Nady Golestaneh, the lead author of this study, this might have occurred due to integration of viruses in the genome while the iPS cells were being reprogrammed.

Therefore, the next key focus of these researchers is on the generation of ‘safe’ hiPS derived RPE cells, which can restore the lost eyesight in AMD victims.

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