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First patient receives stem cell treatment for AMD

29 September 2015  •  Author: Victoria White

A pioneering trial of a new treatment derived from stem cells for people with ‘wet’ age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has commenced at Moorfields Eye Hospital following a successful operation on a patient.

amd

This first operation is a major milestone in the London Project to Cure Blindness, which was established 10 years ago with the aim of curing vision loss in patients with wet AMD.

The trial is investigating the safety and efficacy of transplanting eye cells (retinal pigment epithelium) derived from stem cells to treat people with sudden severe visual loss from wet AMD. These cells are used to replace those at the back of the eye that are diseased in AMD. This is done using a specially engineered patch inserted behind the retina in an operation lasting one to two hours.

The first surgery was successfully performed on a patient last month and there have been no complications to date. The team hope to determine the patient’s outcome in terms of initial visual recovery by early December.

‘Real potential’ that patients with wet AMD could benefit from stem cell transplantation

“There is real potential that people with wet age-related macular degeneration will benefit in the future from transplantation of these cells,” says retinal surgeon Professor Lyndon Da Cruz from Moorfields Eye Hospital, who is performing the operations and is co-leading the London Project.

The trial will recruit 10 patients in total over a period of 18 months. Each patient will be followed for a year to assess the safety and stability of the cells and whether there is an effect in restoring vision.

Professor Philip J Luthert, Director of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, said: “The trial has shown the power of collaboration between the University, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Pfizer in establishing a new treatment paradigm for AMD. The London Project has been funded by large philanthropic donations, government funding agencies, charities, the NIHR and many private donors over the past few years, and Pfizer’s commitment has been vital in moving this project forward.”

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