Stem Cells Promise Cure

by Dan Roberts
April 20, 2006
Here is a summary of an article that appeared in Science Magazine regarding stem cell transplantation for treatment of retinal degeneration:
Stem Cells Promise Cure For Vision Loss
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
New Delhi: Dr Rajender Prasad Centre for Opthalmic Sciences at AIIMS has been studying the effect of stem cells in patients who suffer from degenerative vision disorders. The study is being conducted on fifty patients who are severely affected by age-related macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa.
The Phase I trial has received clearance from the Ethics Committee of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology and from the AIIMS Ethics Committee.
According to Dr Atul Kumar, Professor of Opthalmology and head of the team undertaking the research, significant improvement has been noticed in vision of the patients after one month of injecting stem cells. There is further improvement after a gap of three months.
The researchers are using autologous (derived from patient’s own body) bone marrow derived stem cells and injecting them into a loose tissue near the cornea. Follow-ups are then done after one, three, six and 12 months.
[end article summary]
This study is still in early phase I of clinical trials. Dr. Atul Kumar has had success over the past several years with corneal regeneration using stem cells, and now he is testing his theory that retinal regeneration might also occur. So far the results are promising. He is testing only dry AMD patients age 50+ and retinitis pigmentosa patients age 18+, with best corrected acuity of 20/400 in both cases.
The full protocol of the trial may be found in:
Indian Journal of Medical & Paediatric Oncology
Vol. 26 Suppl. 2005
Use of Autologous Bone Marrow Derived Stem Cells for Rehabilitation of Patients with Dry Age Related Macular Degeneration and Retinitis Pigmentosa: Phase-1 Clinical Trial. Authors: Atul Kumar, Vijay Kumar Pahwa, Radhika Tandon, Lalit Kumar, Sujata Mohanty