http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/311860

Stem cell trial could offer hope for Stargardt disease

Posted Sep 23, 2011 by Jane Fazackarley
In a press release issued on Thursday, London's Moorfields Eye Hospital announced that it has been given the go-ahead to begin a stem cell trial which could give hope to patients with an untreatable eye condition.
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New England Journal of Medicine
The trial was given approval by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Thursday and the trials are scheduled to begin within the next few months. If successful, the stem cell treatment could help young patients who have the hereditary eye condition Stargardt disease (juvenile macular degeneration), which causes vision loss in young patients.
During the trial, patients will be injected with retinal stem cells during a procedure which Moorfields Eye Hospital say will take approximately one hour.
Commenting on the potential of the new trial in a press release, retinal surgeon Professor James Bainbridge, said:
“There is real potential that people with blinding disorders of the retina, including Stargardt disease and age-related macular degeneration, might benefit in the future from transplantation of retinal cells."
“The ability to regenerate retinal cells from stem cells in the laboratory has been a significant advance and the opportunity to help translate such technology into new treatments for patients is hugely exciting. Testing the safety of retinal cell transplantation in this clinical trial will be an important step towards achieving this aim.”
In an email, a member of the marketing and communications team stated that the trial will involve 12 patients and will be carried out over two years.
According to Stargardt’s Australia, more than 25,000 American’s suffer from Stargardt disease, which affects the macula and retina, causing symptoms such as blurred vision in the early stages of the disease and problems with central vision and colour perception in the later stages.