Friday, 14 December 2012

$10.6M fund gets stem cell clinical trials on AMD started

The Funding Committee of the Empire State Stem Cell Board and the New York State Stem Cell Science recommended the Neural Stem Cell Institute (NSCI) for a 10 million dollar fund. Intention of the fund is to help the NSCI begin clinical trials on a type of stem cell that they have been thoroughly studying for the past time.

The aforementioned type of stem cell, was recently discovered by researchers of the institute and lays in the back of the eye. It's called retinal pigment epithelium stem cell and NSCI researchers believe it can help people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Their experiments have shown that these stem cells have the potential to regrow the degenerated tissue caused by AMD.

Stem cells may one day treat Age-related macular degeneration
Image of the fundus with intermediate age-related macular degeneration.

Officials said that the money will be given to two separate organisations. The first one is the Regenerative Research Foundation, which will receive $5.8M, and the second one is the Retinal Stem Cell Consortium, which will receive $4.8M. After the application has been accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the money will be used to launch clinical trials for the treatment of AMD. According to State Health Commissioner, Nirav Shah, trials are expected to start within the next five years.

Jeffrey H. Stern, chairman of the Regenerative Research Foundation, says that if the results from the clinical trials are positive, New York residents with AMD will most probably be the first in the world to benefit.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a medical condition that typically affects older adults. It gradually leads to  a loss of vision in the centre of the visual field. It is the number one cause of blindness in people older than 75 years of age and one of the leading ones after the age of 50. Currently there is no cure for the condition, only drugs that slow its progression down. Hopefully NSCI's stem cell clinical trials will result in better treatment options.

Informational video about the two types of Age-related macular degeneration and how they are treated

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