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Research to Prevent Blindness

Study Tests Stem Cell-based Therapy for Advanced Dry AMD

RPB-supported researchers and physicians at the University of Southern California (USC) Roski Eye Institute have collaborated with other California institutions to show that a stem cell-based retinal implant is feasible for use in people with advanced dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a press release by the Institute. The results of the study were published in the scientific journal Science Translational Medicine.

A photo of the implant used in the study.

 

Photo credit: Britney O Pennington, PhD

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 by a USC Roski Eye Institute surgeon. The patients were followed for up to one year to assess its safety and the treatment was well-tolerated. 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.

Amir Kashani, MD, PhD, lead author and surgeon for the study, in his lab.

 

Photo credit: Richard Carrasco, Keck Medicine of USC

As part of the study, the research team also performed a preliminary assessment of the therapy's efficacy. One patient had improvement in visual acuity, which was measured by how many letters they could read on an eye chart, and two patients had gains in visual function, which was measured by how well they could use the area of the retina treated by the implant.

"Our study shows that this unique stem cell-based retinal implant thus far is well-tolerated, and preliminary results suggest it may help people with advanced dry age-related macular degeneration," says coauthor and lead inventor of the implant Mark S. Humayun, MD, PhD, director of the USC Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics, co-director of the USC Roski Eye Institute, affiliate principal investigator with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC and university professor of ophthalmology at the Keck School.

Read the full ARticle from USC here

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