A Phase I clinical study into the use of human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) tissue to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has reported that both patients have regained reading vision. In the article, published in Nature Biotechnology, the authors comment that these results “demonstrate the feasibility and safety of hESC-RPE patch transplantation”.
In AMD, the RPE, that separates blood vessels from the nerves in the eye and nourishes the retina, is damaged. In the study, led by Professor Pete Coffey, University College London, and Professor Lyndon da Cruz, Moorfields Eye Hospital (both London, UK), two patients received a transplant of a patch of hESC-derived RPE tissue to replace this damaged tissue using a specially engineered surgical tool. The patients, a woman in her early 60s and a man in his 80s, had severe wet AMD and declining vision. After treatment, they were monitored for 12 months.
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One patient commented that “In the months before the operation my sight was really poor and I couldn’t see anything out of my right eye. I was struggling to see things clearly, even when up-close. After the surgery my eyesight improved to the point where I can now read the newspaper and help my wife out with the gardening.”
Professor Pete Coffey explained: “This study represents real progress in regenerative medicine and opens the door to new treatment options for people with AMD. We hope this will lead to an affordable ‘off-the-shelf’ therapy that could be made available to NHS patients within the next five years.”
Source: da Cruz L, Fynes K, Georgiadis O et al. Phase 1 clinical study of an embryonic stem cell–derived retinal pigment epithelium patch in age-related macular degeneration. Nat. Biotechnol. doi:10.1038/nbt.4114 (2018)(ePub ahead of print); https://www.moorfields.nhs.uk/news/successful-trials-new-treatment-moorfields-fight-against-sight-loss-caused-amd