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Artificial Retinal Implant may Stop Blindness-causing Disease

by Chrisy Ngilneii on April 5, 2018 at 3:51 PM
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Artificial Retinal Implant may Stop Blindness-causing Disease

Retinal implants developed from human embryonic stem cell (hESC) may be safe for the treatment of vision loss caused by a type of macular degeneration, which is a progressive blinding disease.

The findings from the phase 1/2a clinical trial (which encompasses two phases of analysis) may pave the way to a potential new therapy for advanced non-neovascular age-related macular degeneration (or NNAMD, also known as "Dry" AMD). NNAMD is associated with loss of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a membrane that nourishes and protects retinal visual cells in the eye.

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Here, Amir Kashani and colleagues examined the safety and efficacy of a bioengineered retinal implant, which they previously developed and tested in rodents. Their implant is composed of human embryonic stem cells that rest on a material and form a membrane, mimicking the RPE. The authors inserted the implant into the eyes of four subjects with advanced NNAMD and monitored their vision over the course of four months to a year.

The implant was well tolerated by all four subjects, who maintained their vision throughout the duration of the study (one even demonstrated an observable improvement in visual acuity). Furthermore, post-operative images revealed stem cells in the implants successfully integrated with the subjects' retinal tissue, and their retinas exhibited anatomical changes consistent with reappearance of the RPE. As a next step, the researchers plan to conduct larger prospective studies to further assess the efficacy of the implant for treating NNAMD in humans.

Source: Eurekalert
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