Amazing news from UCLA this week: Stem cells developed by Jules Stein Eye Institute researchers have been used to help two legally blind people achieve “modest improvement in their vision,” according to the university.
The findings were published this week in The Lancet, a leading medical journal.
UCLA says the discovery “may pave the way for a new therapy to treat eye diseases.” The university notes that one of the patients, a woman in her 70s, has dry macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in American old folks.
Doctors transplanted to the two recipients (including a woman in her 50s with Stargardt's macular dystrophy) low doses of stem-cell derived “retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells” and then gave them low doses of “immunosuppression therapy,” according to UCLA.
The woman in her 50s went from being able to read 0 letters on an eye chart to 5.
The woman in her 70s went from 21 letters to a peak of 33.
The subjects each belong to a 12-patient clinical trial that will have doctors keep an, er, eye on them to make sure the process is safe for the rest of us (thanks, ladies).
Credit goes to Dr. Steven Schwartz, chief of the retinal division at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, and doctors at Advanced Cell Technology Inc.
Now who's against stem-cell research again?