UCL News


UCL in the News: Stem cell therapy for eye disease

5 June 2007

UK scientists are attempting to restore vision in people with a leading cause of blindness using stem cells.

The team has already repaired the vision of a handful of patients with age-related macular degeneration using cells from the patients' own eyes.

With the help of a £4m donation, they are now planning to carry out the same operation using retinal cells grown from stem cells in the lab. …

There are two types - dry - which makes up 90% of cases, and wet, which makes up the other 10%. …

There are treatments for wet AMD but not for dry AMD. …

A £4m donation from a US benefactor who wishes to be remain anonymous has enabled the teams to set up the London Project to Cure AMD with the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

Professor Pete Coffey, director of the Project, explained … they now needed to make sure the cells were safe enough to be used in humans, which would take time.

"Using stem cells - which are far more adaptable - can only improve the success of what has already been achieved and in addition establish this as a global therapy."

"The goal is within five years to have a cohort of patients to put the cells into," added Professor Coffey whose team is preparing the laboratory-derived cells for transplant …

More operations are also planned with the patients' own cells in those suffering from dry AMD to test the procedures effectiveness. …

BBC News Online, 5 June 2007