A Cure for Blindness? British Doctors Successfully Treat Age-Related Macular Degeneration
A 60-year-old patient who was classified as legally blind is recovering comfortably after surgeons successfully carried out the first operation on a patient with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), characterized by leaking blood vessels.
The British surgeons at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital have said that they feel confident that they have made a breakthrough toward restoring sight for patients who suffer from AMD, which affects central vision (which is what you see when you focus straight ahead).
Surgeons took a single stem cell from an embryo and then grew a patch of cells in a lab. These new cells were then transplanted into the patient's eye.
“The reason why we are so excited is that we have been able to grow a perfect copy of the eye,” Professor Lyndon Da Cruz, a surgeon at Moorfields told the Telegraph.
He added that he optimistic that the patient’s sight would be restored. “Having got this far, we feel it will work,” Cruz said.
It is not yet known how much an operation like this will cost going forward and the recovering patient is only part of the initial trials. Nevertheless, the progress made from this operation is being regarded as a giant leap forward in restoring sight to blind patients.
It is not the first time that scientists have used stem cells derived from human embryos in patients with sight loss.
In 2012, patients with Stargardt's disease -- which leads to progression deterioration of vision -- were injected with embryonic stem cells in a safety trial carried out in the US and UK, which also involved a team at Moorfields.