Advanced Cell Technology has filed an application with the FDA to begin an early phase trial of an embryonic stem cell-based therapy for macular degeneration. If the company name sounds familiar, that's because it's the same company that on November 22 received FDA approval to begin a trial for Stargardt's macular degeneration. Both trials are testing the same cells. In a press release, the company said:
The FDA has given the green light to the second trial based on embryonic stem cells - this one for a genetic form of blindness called Stargardt's Macular Degeneration. The treatment, developed by Advanced Cell Technology, involves replacing the the layer of the retina damaged by the disease, called the retinal pigment epithelium, with new RPE cells derived from embryonic stem cells.
The world is delighted that patients with injured eyes in Italy regained their sight, thanks to the use of stem cells transplanted from their own good eyes. This is a wonderful victory for Dr. Grazziella Pellegrini, the University of Modena, and everyone involved. They are doubly to be congratulated because they are working with one hand tied behind their backs. In Italy, it is illegal to fund embryonic stem cell research. So they did what they could with what was allowed.
More news from UC Irvine, this time relating to retinal diseases such as macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, and Stargardt's disease. A group led by Hans Keirstead of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center and the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center created an 8-layer retina from human embryonic stem cells.
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells have created excitement and head scratching ever since they were first created a little over two years ago. The excitement arises from their creation through reprogramming adult cells by manipulating their gene function, which does not require a human embryo and could potentially give a patient personalized replacement cells. But determining just how identical they are to embryonic stem cells in function has caused much consternation.