A second trial begun in 2018 is showing positive results with replacing defective cells leading to vision loss from dry (geographic) macular degeneration. Implanted cells derived from stem cells have been implanted into five patients by researchers from University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Results at one year have shown that one patient’s acuity improved by 17 letters and two patients demonstrated improved ability to fixate on a target. Significantly, no patients have demonstrated progressive vision loss during the trial.
This stem cell implantation is similar to the ongoing Moorfields Eye Hospital study in London, the difference being in the composition of the basement membrane that contains the stem cells. Both procedures have the potential to delay the atrophy of the sight cells, and to even restore vision to those affected by dry macular degeneration.
More detailed results from the California trial may be read in the March 4 issue of Science Translational Medicine.