The fight against diseases, which to some extent threaten human life – one of the most priority areas of modern medicine. But modern technologies today are able not only to cure the patient of any ailments, but also to restore the lost properties of the senses. For example, recently a group of American researchers successfully saved four patients with macular degeneration of the retina from blindness.
The editorial board of the journal Science Translational Medicine reports on the new method. In preliminary studies by scientists from the University of Southern California on animals, it was found that to stop the progressive degeneration of the retina and partially restore the vision can be by transplanting the pigment layer of the epithelium. After all, problems with the pigment layer cause blindness in macular degeneration. First the photoreceptors die, the vision becomes blurred, the person begins to have difficulty with face recognition and reading, and then blindness occurs.
A cellular implant used in clinical trials was a layer of pigment epithelial cells derived from human embryonic stem cells. Cells were located on a special polymeric substrate, simulating the basal layer (the one that separates the retina from the vascular membrane). 5 people took part in the experiment. Four of them performed an operation for implantation of cells, and after implant implantation in the retina of the eye they were observed for a year. In all subjects, the implant was not only well established, but the results of tomography of the fundus revealed the restoration of pigment epithelium and even the integration of new photoreceptors. In three patients vision has ceased to worsen, and one has even improved. At the same time, the last, the fifth patient had the worst. During this time, his vision significantly decreased. Now experts are planning the next stage of testing and are hoping for a full-scale introduction of a new treatment method.