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AMD Research Rescues RPE and Rods and Cones
July 20, 2022

AMD Research Rescues RPE and Rods and Cones

A preclinical animal study, Clinical-grade stem cell–derived retinal pigment epithelium patch rescues retinal degeneration in rodents and pigs, funded by the National Eye Institute published their results in the January 16, 2019 edition of Science Translational Medicine (STM).

The researchers were able to prevent blindness in animal models of geographic atrophy which is the advanced form of dry age-related macular degeneration.

Based on these positive results this macular degeneration treatment breakthrough has now resulted in a Phase I/IIA clinical trial. “The protocol, which prevented blindness in animal models, is the first clinical trial in the U.S. to use replacement tissues from patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC),” said Kapil Bharti, Ph.D., a senior investigator and head of the NEI Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Section.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Taking a patient's own blood cells, researchers were able to convert the blood cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). This type of stem cell can then be "induced" to become any type of cell.

By programming the stem cells to become retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells and transplanting the patch of lab grown healthy RPE cells between the patient's RPE and photoreceptors, the layer of photoreceptor cells can now be supported to prevent any further death of the rods and cones. Since the patient's own blood cells are used, the chance of rejection of the RPE transplant is minimized.

Phase I/IIA Clinical Trial

A Phase I/IIA clinical trial called Autologous Transplantation of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Retinal Pigment Epithelium for Geographic Atrophy Associated With Age-Related Macular Degeneration has now been approved and is being conducted at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

You can watch a short video that explains what is the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and how replacing it can help patients with AMD here:

Replacing the RPE withInduced Pluripotent Cells

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN

Better Health for Better Vision

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