Blind people regain vision after stem cell transplant
A study of people with severe vision problems found that transplanting embryonic stem cells into their eyes not only didn't harm them, but it helped more than half of them regain some vision.
For the research, published in the journal The Lancet, scientists studied 18 patients. Half of them suffered dry, athrophic age-related macular degeneration, and the other half suffered from Stargardt’s macular dystrophy – diseases that are the leading cause of blindness in adults and young adults.
Participants were injected in one eye--the one with the worse vision--with retinal pigment epithelium cells that were developed from embryonic stem cells in doses of 50,000, 100,000 or 150,000. The researchers then administered drugs to suppress any immune response to the foreign cells. The only negative effects, according to the report, came from the surgery or the drugs, and not from the cells created from stem cells.
At the same time vision improved in 10 of the patients’ eyes, remained the same in seven patients, and got worse in one patient.
The researchers acknowledged that this was a small study and that more research needs to be done on transplanting embryonic stem cells in humans.