ACT's experiment will focus on Stargardt disease, which affects only about 30,000 Americans. But the company hopes the same approach will work for similar and more common eye disorders like age-related macular degeneration, which affects millions.
Stargardt is an inherited disorder that attacks central vision used for tasks like reading and recognizing faces. Some patients go totally blind, even losing peripheral vision, while others are severely impaired and can only perceive light or see their hands moving in front of their faces.
The disease typically starts in adolescence. The key problem is that impaired scavenger cells fail to remove toxic byproducts from the eye, allowing them to build up and kill other cells. There is no proven treatment.
In the new study, 12 patients will be treated with healthy scavenger cells, created in a laboratory from human embryonic stem cells. This early phase of the research is primarily to test the safety of various doses, injecting only one eye of each patient.
Monday, November 22, 2010
FDA Approves Second Embryonic Stem Cell Treatment Study
For the second time in little over a month, the FDA has approved human trials of an embryonic stem cell treatment in the US. This time, it is for a relatively rare eye condition, but the group behind the tests thinks that this could lay the foundation for treating a wide range of age-related eye conditions: