Dry age-related macular degeneration is an all too common, untreatable disease that eventually results in blindness. It is caused by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a layer of cells above the retina that supplies it with nutrients, becoming dysfunctional over time. Now there’s significant hope that an implant loaded with RPE cells created from embryonic stem cells can help to stop and reverse dry age-related macular degeneration.
A team of researchers from a number of institutions in California managed to create and now test a retinal implant made of a layer of human embryonic stem cell–derived RPE on top of a synthetic parylene, a poly(p-xylylene) polymer. The bottom layer is made to resemble Bruch’s membrane, a structure naturally located adjacent to the RPE.
In a clinical trial involving four people that received the implant, none had continued vision loss while one subject had improved vision. This is still an ongoing study and more substantial results are expected as more time passes. But for now, the implant has been well received and the patients are taking to it very well with the hope that as new cells become integrated into their eye, vision will return anew.
Study in journal Science Translational Medicine: A bioengineered retinal pigment epithelial monolayer for advanced, dry age-related macular degeneration…