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    Laser advances take retina specialty to new levels of treatment, care

    Artificial retina, genetic engineering, stem cell therapies also generate interest

     

    “Implantation of this device is very promising, because it may allow patients to have better quality of life if they are able to perform activities of daily living,” Dr. Ip said. “In future years, we can look forward to further refinements of the technology. The system is a viable approach to an artificial retina.”

    While tremendous growth has been seen over the past decade in the development of new treatment strategies for AMD, the upcoming decade may hold even more promise, according to Dr. Dugel.

    “Stem cell technology is advancing rapidly, and it is possible that we will be able to take a skin sample from a patient with AMD and create a self-renewing line of healthy RPE and photoreceptor cells for subretinal transplantation and restoration of visual function,” he said.

    Stem cell therapy could be implemented in the treatment of atrophic AMD primarily in two ways:

    • To rescue diseased retinal cells by secretion of growth and neuroprotective factors and,
    • To replace dead cells by transplantation and functional integration into host tissue.

    It also may be used to treat exudative AMD after stabilization of choroidal neovascularization with anti-VEGF therapy.

    Submacular surgery also may be re-introduced to treat exudative AMD. Stem cell-derived RPE and photoreceptor transplants would theoretically be able to “fill-in” the RPE and photoreceptor defects generated by the surgery, assuming the difficulties associated with synaptic integration can be overcome, he explained.

    “Although many challenges still need to be overcome before stem cell therapy can benefit our patients with AMD, significant advances have recently been achieved,” Dr. Dugel said.

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