A patient in the UK has become the first person to receive an experimental treatment using stem cells which could in the future cure the eyesight of millions of people.
The woman, who has age related macular degeneration had a successful operation by doctors at Moorfields Eye Hosptial last month. Doctors will not know if the operation will work and she has regained her sight until December. If she does it could be a massive step is saving sight in millions of people.
The transplant itself contains eye cells, called retinal pigment epithelium, which were created using stem cell research and were grown in a lab. The cells then form a patch that can be placed behind th
e retina during surgery.
If the operation proves a success and the patient regains her sight the potential for this stem cell research could be huge. Although the first patients have the “wet” form of macular degenerative condition the doctors believe that this operation could be used on those who suffer from the “dry” form which is the majority of the sufferers in the United Kingdom.
Stem Cells have moved from drawing board to human trials with incredible speed say scientists. The first embryonic stem cell was grown in 1989. Using them in eyes was always going to have a big advantage over other prospects, because it is possible to transplant them without an attack by the immune system, as would happen in other parts of the body. Most people who have any sort of transplant have to take drugs that suppress the immune system for the rest of their lives.
Stem Cells are believed to be the way forward and if this operation proves to be a success then we are taking a huge step in medical science as well as researching more on the use of stem cells.