November 5, 2014 – Stem Cells and Macular Degeneration


Anchor lead: Is the promise of stem cells coming to fruition?  Elizabeth Tracey reports

Macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness as people age.  Now a study reported in the Lancet describes using stem cells, a type of cell that hasn’t fully developed yet, to treat the condition by injecting them directly into the eye, with impressive results.  Neil Bressler, a macular degeneration expert at Johns Hopkins, shares his view of the study.

Bressler:  I think the idea is very exciting and the nice thing about the article that was just published is that they showed no substantial safety issues.  It is important to recognize that there were a few eyes that developed some complications including a serious infection which had to be treated with antibiotics placed inside the middle cavity of the eye, and a few of the patients developed cataract which can happen as a result of this surgery, but overall the exciting part is that it was safe.   :29

Bressler says the technique will need to be improved upon and tested earlier in the course of the disease to demonstrate its utility, but he’s cautiously optimistic.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.