An injection of stem cells into the eye may soon slow or reverse the effects of early-stage age-related disorder that causes vision loss, shows a promising study.
Currently, there is no treatment that slows the progression of age related vision loss caused by macular degeneration, 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 age-related macular degeneration,” said lead author of the study Shaomei Wang, research scientist at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute in the US.
The stem cell injection resulted in 130 days of preserved vision in laboratory rats, which roughly equates to 16 years in humans.
For the study, the researchers first converted adult human skin cells into powerful induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), which can be expanded indefinitely and then made into any cell of the human body.
These induced pluripotent stem cells 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,” contributing author to the study Clive Svendsen, director, Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute, pointed out.
“Though additional pre-clinical data is needed, our institute is close to a time when we can offer adult stem cells as a promising source for personalised therapies for this and other human diseases,” Svendsen noted.
The study was published in the journal Stem Cells.