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Stem cells used to treat loss of vision

By Tim Sandle     Jul 27, 2013 in Science
A study of stem cell therapy using patients’ own cells, reprogrammed to be stem cells, to treat vision loss has been approved in Japan.
Scientists in Japan will conduct a small clinical trial of a stem-cell treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes blindness in older people. The trial will be undertaken in Kobe.
According to a statement from Agence France-Presse (AFP), researchers at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology and the Institute of Biomedical Research and Innovation Hospital will take adult skin cells from six AMD patients and reprogram them to into a stem-like state, before injecting them back into the subjects’ retinas to treat the disorder.
Stem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms. The cells can differentiate into diverse specialized cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells. In mammals, there are two broad types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells, which are found in various tissues.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a medical condition which usually affects older adults and results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field (the macula) because of damage to the retina. It occurs in "dry" and "wet" forms.
The study will be the first experiment to use induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in humans. A successful iPSC approach would allow patients to be treated with their own cells. This means that rejection by the the body is less likely.
More about Stem cells, Vision, Eyes, Blindness
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