Stem Cell Surgery to Treat Macular Degeneration

Researchers have developed a method to use stem cells to treat macular degeneration.

Stem cells have the ability to develop into any type of cell within the body.  Stem cells have two important characteristics that distinguish them from any other cell types in the body.  These cells are unspecialized cells that renew themselves for long periods of time through cell division.  These cells can also be introduced into the body and can take on the specialized functions of cells with special functions such as retinal cells.  This has amazing potential for treating many diseases, especially diseases that impact the eye such as macular degeneration.

Stem cell surgery is being used in the eye care profession to cure blindness.  Researchers from the University College London, Moorfields Eye Hospital and Sheffield University have started developing a stem cell treatment for macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration is a progressive disease that causes people to gradually lose their central vision.  There are two forms of the eye disease, wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration.  Wet macular degeneration is the most severe form of the disease, causing a rapid loss of vision in those affected.

Researchers have constructed “read-made” patches of cells identical to those damaged by macular degeneration patients.  These patches are constructed of human embryonic stem cells grown in a lab environment.  By injecting these stem cells into the back of the eye, they repair the damage that had been caused by macular degeneration by taking on the function of retinal cells.

Researchers hope that this process can become as common as cataract surgery in the near future.

Stem cell research and stem cell treatments for macular degeneration has developed dramatically in recent months.