It’s a small first step in the right direction. Eventually, this may prove to be huge benefit for some people suffering from some pretty nasty conditions.
Geron, a biotech company based in Menlo Park, CA, received FDA approval in January for a trial to treat patients with acute spinal-cord injuries with cells derived from embryonic stem cells.
This latest treatment for eye disease, developed by Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), based in Worcester, MA, uses human embryonic stem cells to re-create a type of cell in the retina that supports the photoreceptors needed for vision. These cells, called retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), are often the first to die off in age-related macular degeneration and other eye diseases, which in turn leads to loss of vision. Several years ago, scientists found that human embryonic stem cells could be a source of RPE cells, and subsequent studies found that these cells could restore vision in mouse models of macular degeneration.