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NEW NEI study using stem cells to treat dry AMD

Dec 31, 2019

graphic of how red blood cells become IPSCs
Credit www.nih.gov

As we move into January 2020, we look back at a year of advancements in the treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration. 

In January 2019 the National Eye Institute (NEI) reported that Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), (adult stem cells that can be reprogrammed back to an embryonic state), hold promise as regenerative medicines. Once positive data turned up in animal trials, the stage was set for human trials.

NEI scientists reported to the journal Science Translation Medicine, that they were able to convert blood cells from patients with AMD and convert them to iPS cells that could become RPE cells. Once the cells are integrated into the eye, they are designed to promote integration and rejuvenation of the photoreceptors that carry the light to the brain via the optic nerve.

The landmark study that has been launched by the National Eye Institute (NEI) uses mature human stem cells to treat advanced dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes central vision loss. The study replaces a patient's retinal pigment epithelials (RPE) cells, which are lost with advancing AMD, with induced pluripotnent stem cells (iPSC), with the goal of producing RPE cells.

Induced Pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are derived from skin or blood cells that have been reprogrammed back into an embryonic-like pluripotent state that enables the development of an unlimited source of any type of human cell needed for therapeutic purposes.

Click on any of the links in this article to learn more.  Watch this video which describes how the process is designed to work.