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    Stem cell therapy explored for atrophic AMD

    Philadelphia, PAStem cell therapy is in its infancy, and the first steps have been taken to address atrophic age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with some success among several interesting treatment strategies, according to Allen C. Ho, MD.

    “It is an exciting time for cell therapy, and currently there are more than 12 groups around the world that are problem-solving scientific questions and refining surgical techniques for treating dry AMD, the potential for stem cell, and other cell therapies for atrophic AMD,” said Dr. Ho, director of retina research, Mid Atlantic Retina and Wills Eye Hospital, and professor of ophthalmology, Wills Eye Hospital, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA.

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    While the progress in stem cell therapy generally has been “halting,” in Ophthalmology, progress is being made, especially in retina, Dr. Ho noted.

    This progress is typically seen in partnership with industry.

    The primary question in stem cell research is whether cells that are from embryonic or adult sources when placed in atrophic areas can support or replace tissue and function in atrophic AMD.

    Three cell types are being evaluated in cell therapy trials to treat atrophic AMD:

    ·      Stem cells, which are defined as having the properties of pluripotential differentiation and self-renewal

    ·      Stem cell-derived but differentiated cells, such as stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells

    ·      Adult non-stem cell therapies derived from the umbilical cord

    Next: Approaches to stem cell therapy

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