Researchers testing eye implant for macular degeneration

Researchers are testing a new therapy for treating macular degeneration that utilizes implanting a thin sheet of human embryonic stem cells into the eye.

This eye implant would be used to treat patients suffering from the dry form of macular degeneration.

University of Southern California researchers grew human embryonic stem cells in a sterile lab for one month, and then implanted them into the eyes of four patients with advanced dry macular degeneration. The patients were then followed for a year and researchers noted that their eyesight did not decline further and one patient reported being able to read 17 more letters on the eye chart than prior to surgery. This small study showed that the treatment might safe, though the numbers of patients treated was very small.

Whether similar research involving human embryonic stem cells demonstrates benefit to patients while not doing harm is still an unknown.*

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