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AMD Stem Cell treatment shown to be safe

01/05/2019By Callum Glennen
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The Japanese team behind a stem cell-based treatment for neovascular age-related macular degeneration has confirmed its safety, after reporting trial patients are doing well after one year.

The results provide the world’s first evidence that eye surgery can be safely performed with donor-induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, potentially providing a pathway for cheaper and quicker transplants.

In 2017, five patients’ eyes were injected with artificially grown retinal cells, made from donor iPS cells. According to the researchers behind the procedure, the transplanted retinal cells successfully affixed in all cases, with only one patient’s body rejecting the transplant. The team successfully used medication to overcome the rejection.

Of the five patients tested, four have maintained their level of visual acuity while one experienced an improvement. The procedure has also not been linked to any abnormalities or cancers.

Masayo Takahashi, Riken Institute
Masayo Takahashi, Riken Institute
"We'd like to begin new clinical trials to find out for what type of symptoms the treatment would be highly effective"
Masayo Takahashi, Riken Institute

Project leader and Riken Institute researcher Dr Masayo Takahashi presented the results at the 2019 annual meeting of the Japanese Ophthalmological Society, The Asahi Shimbun reported.

"We think we were able to ensure the safety (of the treatment),” Takahashi said. “We'd like to begin new clinical trials to find out for what type of symptoms the treatment would be highly effective.”

Transplants involving iPS cells have been performed in the past, however in those cases the iPS cells have been derived from a patient’s own body. While this minimises the risk of rejection, the process of creating iPS cells from a patient’s skin or blood is both expensive and time-consuming.

These results indicate that donors could be used instead, making iPS cell banks that could potentially reducing the time and cost of treatment.

The project has its origins in the work of Dr Shinya Yamanaka and Sir John Gurdon, who were jointly awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery that cells could be reprogrammed into iPS cells.

 

More reading:

Man with AMD treated with donated stem cells in world first

 

Carl Zeiss
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