The London Times reports:
BRITISH scientists have developed the world’s first stem cell therapy to cure the most common cause of blindness. Surgeons predict it will become a routine, one-hour procedure that will be generally available in six or seven years’ time.
The treatment involves replacing a layer of degenerated cells with new ones created from embryonic stem cells. It was pioneered by scientists and surgeons from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London and Moorfields eye hospital.
The treatment will tackle age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness. It affects more than 500,000 Britons and the number is forecast to increase significantly as people live longer. The disease involves the loss of eye cells.
Under the new treatment, embryonic stem cells are transformed into replicas of the missing cells. They are then placed on an artificial membrane which is inserted in the back of the retina.
Tom Bremridge, chief executive of the Macular Disease Society, said: “This is a huge step forward for patients. We are extremely pleased that the big guns have become involved, because, once this treatment is validated, it will be made available to a huge volume of patients.”
No actual fetuses were harmed in the making of this treatment.