Embryonic Stem Cell Transplantation Treatment for Stargardt’s Disease

Doctors at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London will conduct Europe’s first clinical trial of a new treatment using embryonic stem cells. For this, 12 patients with Stargardt macular degeneration, a congenital eye disease resulting in loss of central vision, with preservation of peripheral vision, were selected. The prevalence of this disease in the world is 1 out of 10,000 people.

The main purpose of the study is to assess the safety of treatment of congenital retinal pathologies using embryonic stem cells. Specialists of the American biotechnology company “advancedcell.com” have developed a new method of treating macular degeneration, which consists in introducing cells of its pigment epithelium, obtained from stem cells of human embryos, into the retina. Scientists believe that with the help of embryonic stem cells in the future it will be possible to treat not only visual impairments but also a huge range of other diseases, such as cardiovascular and oncological.

In October 2010, the American company Geron for the first time organized such studies on the treatment of 9 patients with spinal cord injuries with embryonic stem cells.

In 2011, the National Institute of Health Research awarded a grant of £ 26 million to Moorfields Hospital and the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London to promote new eye treatments.

What is Stargardt’s disease?

Stargardt’s disease is a hereditary pathology of the retina, accompanied by degenerative changes in its central (macular) zone, which entails a loss of central vision. As a rule, the disease manifests itself even in childhood or adolescence with central scotomas and a violation of color perception. With the progression of Stargardt’s disease, complete blindness becomes the outcome of the process. In the diagnosis of pathology, ophthalmoscopy, fluorescent angiography and EPS of the retina are used. As a treatment, injection therapy with preparations of vitamins, angioprotectors, antioxidants, as well as physiotherapy is prescribed. In addition, revascularizing operations are performed and an autologous tissue therapy technique in development is being applied.