Dry age-related macular degeneration is the most common type of age-related macular degeneration. Over time, it can lead to loss of central vision, which can diminish people’s ability to perform daily tasks like reading, writing, driving and seeing faces, impacting approximately 1.7 million Americans. And that number is expected to rise to 3 million by 2020. But progress is being made.
Physicians and researchers at the USC Roski Eye Institute have collaborated with other California institutions to show that a first-in-kind stem cell–based retinal implant therapy is feasible for use in people with advanced dry age-related macular degeneration. Lead author and surgeon for the study Amir H. Kashani, MD, PhD, is assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
The treatment, which consists of a layer of human embryonic stem cell–derived retinal pigment epithelium cells on an ultrathin supportive structure, was implanted in the retina of four patients who were followed for approximately one year to assess its safety. In addition to there being no severe adverse events related to the implant or the surgical procedure, there was also evidence that the implant integrated with the patients’ retinal tissue, which is essential for the treatment to be able to improve visual function. Learn more.