Early follow up of first human Embryonic Stem Cells transplanted into subretinal space shows promise
A lot of studies are now being carried out on ‘stem cells’. These are the specialized cells capable of differentiating into many different types of cells in human body.
It is now for the first time reported that the human embryonic stems cells has been used in humans. Published on January 23rd in Lancet, a study revealed the successful implantation of the human stem cells in two female patients for macular degeneration treatment.
Macular degeneration is a type of visual loss which mostly affects the senior citizens and involves only the central vision, while the peripheral vision remains unaltered.
According to this report, the early follow up of first human stem cells transplanted into subretinal space of these patients has shown promising results. After about four months of implant, none of them has shown any signs of transplant rejection, any abnormal growth or teratoma formation.
The term teratoma is used when stem cells grow into multiple cell types and form the undesired structures as compared to what was programmed, like teeth or hair. These patients were given the immunosuppressive drugs after the procedure in order to reduce the risk of rejection which can occur later on reduced to low doses.
The procedure was carried out by creating the retinal cells from stem cells which were then injected into the subretinal (under the retina) space of these patients. The follow up studies were conducted on these patients and showed that these transplanted cells had successfully made their way and got them attached to the Bruch’s membrane which is a part of the retina, thus making their survival possible
Now after about four months of this procedure, both the patients have shown no signs of further damage, instead both reported an improvement in their vision.
This study can be regarded as a gateway for new approaches in eye diseases. The stem cells have been long believed to give promising results in any field where they are applicable, including spine injuries and cancer treatments, yet their use is not much favored as it demands compromising a human embryo.
But still, experiments are being carried out and the stem cell treatments can definitely prove to be a successful way of managing many diseases which still are not manageable by ordinary methods.