Stem cells may hold the key to treating a range of illnesses that doctors once thought were incurable. One of those conditions is macular degeneration. New research from the United States indicates that a stem cell therapy may be able to partially reverse the effects of macular degeneration.
In a world-first, stem cell therapy provider Advancells has successfully managed to improve the vision of a patient with macular degeneration. A 58-year-old man from the United States named Al Purdy was treated earlier this year.
Purdy’s macular degeneration caused him to declared legally blind more than 40 years ago. The treatment has dramatically improved his vision and allowed him to become more independent.
After receiving the treatment, Al can now read sections of an eye chart and finds it much easier to see objects at a distance. He can also walk in the dark with the aid of a flashlight — something that was previously impossible.
Macular degeneration occurs when a central part of the retina deteriorates. The retina is the part of the eye that records the images we see and sends electrical impulses to the brain via the optic nerve. Once this central section of the retina (called the macular) begins to deteriorate, central vision is lost. Scientists are still working to discover the causes of macular degeneration.
The procedure that was performed to restore Purdy’s eyesight was completely non-invasive. Researchers began by first harvest some stem cells from Purdy’s bone marrow and adipose tissue (body fat). The cells were processed then injected into his eyes via intravitreal injection. The stem cells began to repair the damage to his retina, restoring some central vision.
The positive outcome of this stem cell therapy gives hope to the millions of people around the world with this condition.