Macular Dystrophy and Stem Cells Update

After writing about the stem cell research update for age related macular degeneration, many readers were asking for an update for those with macular dystrophy or Stargardts.

On January 3, 2011, Advanced Cell Technology announced that the United States FDA approved their application to treat macular dystrophy using retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells derived from human embryonic stem cells.

Many people, including myself have ethical and some scientific concerns regarding the use of embryonic stem cells.

However, acccording to Gary Rabin, Advanced Cell Technology's chief executive, "Advanced Cell Technology uses a proprietary technique to extract a single cell from a young embryo, allowing the rest to remain intact and develop normally.

A similar method is routinely used to biopsy embryos for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, in which embryos created through in vitro fertilization are scanned for genetic disorders before being transferred to a uterus."

At the time that I wrote about this stem cell research, the location of the study had not been finalized. Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA School of Medicine in Los Angeles, California, United States is the study site.

All research, whether it is for macular degeneration or another disease, often starts with small beginnings. This study is no exception. There will be a total of 12 participants in this Phase I/II clinical trial. There will be 4 groups of patients. Each group will receive a different number of stem cells.

Stargardts Macular Dystrophy

To start with the first patient will receive 50,000 cells. Then there will be a 6 week waiting period. During this time the Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB)will review the clinical data and recommend if the next two patients who are to get the same dose may be treated.

To find out more about this study and who is eligible to participate go to:

Stargardts Macular Dystrophy

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Leslie Degner, RN, BSN

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