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Human Clinical Trials Using Embryonic Stem Cells For Eye Disorders To Begin In July!

EyePeople suffering from incurable eye disorders can heave a sigh of relief now!

Clinical trials on humans suffering from difficult-to-treat eye diseases which can further lead to permanent blindness are about to begin in July 2011.

A team of medical professionals from Jules Stein Eye Institute of University of California, Los Angeles will begin the trials on a group of 24 patients suffering from eye diseases.

The therapy was developed by Advanced Cell Technology, a Massachusetts based company and uses retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPEs) grown from human embryonic stem cells.

The medical team aims to halt, slow down, or even reverse the ill-effects of the disease by injecting these embryonic stem cells derived retinal cells.

Earlier studies have shown that rats with macular degeneration when injected with fresh retinal cells, showed a remarkable improvement in the eyesight.

The 24 member patient group will have 2 sets of people: 12 of them suffering from Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, an eye condition that usually affects the younger population aged between 10 and 20 and another 12 suffering from dry AMD or dry age-related macular degeneration.

Each of the 12 patient groups will be further divided into 4 sub-groups, each sub-group consisting of 3 patients. These 4 sub-groups will be transplanted with different number of cells.

To begin with, the initial stages of the trial will focus on the safety of this stem cell transplantation for over a period of 12 months.

Dry age-related macular degeneration is the main cause of vision loss in people in the age group of 55 and above. Moreover, it is the most common cause of blindness in people from developed countries. Also, in both the eye conditions, the loss of vision is due to the thinning of RPE cells in the centre of the retina.

If this clinical trial gives promising results, very soon the treatment can restore the lost vision of several people throughout the world.

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