Sunday, October 7, 2012

An eye into the future

A few months ago, I wrote a post about a recent trial that had been carried out using embryonic stem cells to treat diseases of the eye. The trial was carried out on two patients with different conditions: One with age-related macular degeneration - the leading cause of blindness in the developed world - and another patient in her 50s with Stargardt's disease.

This week we have learnt about an experimental treatment using skin cells to improve the vision of blind mice which may help those with macular degeneration. The fact that the trial involved induced pluripotent stem cells as opposed to embryonic stem cells could dispel concerns initially raised about the ethical implications. Another benefit is that patients would not need drugs to prevent rejection of the transplanted cells.

It's often said that induced pluripotent stem cells transplantation will be important in the practice of medicine in some distant future, but scientists are keen to suggest the future is almost here.

The study was published online in advance of print in the journal Molecular Medicine. 

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