Surgeons in UK have made a leap towards finding the cure to most common form of blindness that is, agerelated macular degeneration (AMD)
Surgeons have carried out a pioneering human embryonic stem cell operation in their efforts to find a cure for age-related blindness.
The procedure was performed on a woman aged 60 at the world-renowned Moorfields Eye Hospital in the city. She is the first of 10 to take part in the trial.
The procedure involved “seeding” a tiny patch with specialised eye cells and implanting it at the back of the retina.
The London Project to Cure Blindness was established a decade ago to try to reverse vision loss in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Ten patients with the wet form of AMD will now undergo the procedure.
“We won’t know until at least Christmas how good her vision is and how long that may be maintained, but we can see the cells are there under the retina where they should be and they appear to be healthy,” said Professor Peter Coffey, of the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology, who is co-leading the project.
The cells being used form the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) the layer of cells that nourish and support the photoreceptors in the macula, the seeing part of the eye.
In macular degeneration, the RPE cells die, and as a result the eye loses function.
Patients with AMD lose their central vision, which becomes distorted and blurred.
Professor Lyndon Da Cruz of Moorfields Eye Hospital, who carried out the surgery, said: “This is truly a regenerative project. In the past it’s been impossible to replace lost neural cells. “If we can deliver the very layer of cells that is missing and give them their function back this would be of enormous benefit to people with the sight-threatening condition”.