Stem cell injection may soon reverse vision loss due to age-related macular degeneration

April 14, 2015, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

An injection of stem cells into the eye may soon slow or reverse the effects of early-stage age-related macular degeneration, according to new research from scientists at Cedars-Sinai. Currently, there is no treatment that slows the progression of the disease, which is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 65.

"This is the first study to show preservation of vision after a single injection of adult-derived human cells into a rat model with ," said Shaomei Wang, MD, PhD, lead author of the study published in the journal Stem Cells and a research scientist in the Eye Program at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute.

The stem cell injection resulted in 130 days of preserved vision in laboratory rats, which roughly equates to 16 years in humans.

Age-related macular degeneration affects upward of 15 million Americans. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. Macular degeneration may also be caused by environmental factors, aging and a genetic predisposition.

When animal models with macular degeneration were injected with induced neural progenitor , which derive from the more commonly known induced pluripotent stem cells, healthy cells began to migrate around the retina and formed a protective layer. This protective layer prevented ongoing degeneration of the vital retinal cells responsible for vision.

Cedars-Sinai researchers in the Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) Core, directed by Dhruv Sareen, PhD, with support from the David and Janet Polak Foundation Stem Cell Core Laboratory, first converted adult into powerful induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), which can be expanded indefinitely and then made into any cell of the human body. In this study, these induced were then directed toward a neural progenitor cell fate, known as induced neural progenitor stem cells, or iNPCs.

"These induced neural progenitor stem cells are a novel source of adult-derived cells which should have powerful effects on slowing down vision loss associated with macular degeneration," said Clive Svendsen, PhD, director of the Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute and contributing author to the study. "Though additional pre-clinical data is needed, our institute is close to a time when we can offer as a promising source for personalized therapies for this and other human diseases."

Next steps include testing the efficacy and safety of the stem cell injection in preclinical animal studies to provide information for applying for an investigational new drug. From there, clinical trials will be designed to test potential benefit in patients with later-stage age-related .

Explore further: Researchers advance the science behind treating patients with corneal blindness

More information: Stem Cells. 2015 April: Human iPSC-derived neural progenitors preserve vision in an AMD-like model.

Related Stories

Researchers advance the science behind treating patients with corneal blindness

January 27, 2015
Researchers in the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute have devised a novel way to generate transplantable corneal stem cells that may eventually benefit patients suffering from life-altering forms ...

Stem cells improve visual function in blind mice

October 1, 2012
An experimental treatment for blindness, developed from a patient's skin cells, improved the vision of blind mice in a study conducted by Columbia ophthalmologists and stem cell researchers.

First report of long-term safety of human embryonic stem cells to treat human disease

October 15, 2014
New research published in The Lancet provides the first evidence of the medium-term to long-term safety and tolerability of transplanting human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in humans.

Stem cell replacement for common age-related blindness

January 13, 2014
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most frequent cause of blindness. Scientists at the Department of Ophthalmology at the Bonn University Hospital and from the Neural Stem Cell Institute in New York (USA) have ...

Recommended for you

Japanese team creates human oogonia using human stem cells in artificial mouse ovaries

September 21, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in Japan has successfully generated human oogonia inside of artificial mouse ovaries using human stem cells. In their paper published in the journal Science, the ...

A new approach to developing a vaccine against vivax malaria

September 21, 2018
A novel study reports an innovative approach for developing a vaccine against Plasmodium vivax, the most prevalent human malaria parasite outside sub-Saharan Africa. The study led by Hernando A. del Portillo and Carmen Fernandez-Becerra, ...

A Trojan Horse delivery for treating a rare, potentially deadly, blood-clotting disorder

September 21, 2018
In proof-of-concept experiments, University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have highlighted a potential therapy for a rare but potentially deadly blood-clotting disorder, TTP. The researchers deliver this therapeutic ...

Researchers explore how changes in diet alter microbiome in artificial intestine

September 21, 2018
Using an artificial intestine they created, researchers have shown that the microbiome can quickly adapt from the bacterial equivalent of a typical western diet to one composed exclusively of dietary fats. That adaptation ...

Study identifies stem cell that gives rise to new bone and cartilage in humans

September 20, 2018
A decade-long effort led by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists has been rewarded with the identification of the human skeletal stem cell.

Scientists grow human esophagus in lab

September 20, 2018
Scientists working to bioengineer the entire human gastrointestinal system in a laboratory now report using pluripotent stem cells to grow human esophageal organoids.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.