Researchers in Japan began recruiting patients on August 1 for a pilot study to determine the possibility of using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) therapy to treat wet-type age-related macular degeneration.
Age-related macular degeneration is a common eye condition for individuals age 50 and older. There are two forms of the disease, dry and wet. The wet form is more severe and is defined by damage to the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), cells located in the back of the eye.
“Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. Currently, there is no way to cure the disease, only slow its progression,” explained ophthalmologist Clayton Falknor, M.D.
In this study, the damaged RPE is removed and researchers then transplant the iSPC-derived RPE cell sheets into the affected area of the eye. Replacing the RPE cells may repair past damage to the patient’s eye, but the issue is finding and using RPE cells that the patient’s immune system does not reject.
Ophthalmologist Thomas Henderson, M.D. said, “If this works as hoped without significant negative side effects, it will revolutionize the therapy of wet macular degeneration.”
If your family has a history of macular degeneration or you believe may have macular degeneration, contact your eye doctor and schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Although research continues in macular degeneration, the current treatment is still slowing the disease and the sooner it can be detected, the bigger impact treatment can have.