Retinal degenerative disease now repaired by stem cell therapy

swis-retinitis_pigmentosa_fs1Can you see the future?
Congenital retinal degeneration or retinal degeneration
, a major cause of blindness,  related to ageing can be repaired by the incorporation of stem cells. It has not been tested clinically till now, but has been successful in animal testing. It promises a bright future. Stem cell is all ready to set another array of success story in ophthalmic treatment.

Stemedica Cell Technologies, Inc., ("Stemedica"),a leader in the manufacturing and development of clinical grade allogeneic adult stem cell technology, has discovered a significant breakthrough in the use of human stem cells and stem cell factors for the potential treatment of  of the retina and retinal pigmented epithelium. Retinal degeneration include diseases such as Retinitis Pigmentosa, which are hereditary conditions in which abnormalities of the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) within the eye lead to progressive vision loss.

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a group of genetic eye conditions. In the progression of symptoms for RP, night blindness generally precedes tunnel vision by years or even decades. Many people with RP do not become legally blind until their 40s or 50s and retain some sight all their life . Others go completely blind from RP, in some cases as early as childhood. Progression of RP is different in each case.

RP is a type of progressive retinal dystrophy, a group of inherited disorders in which abnormalities of the photoreceptors (rods and cones) or the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of the retina lead to progressive visual loss. Affected individuals first experience defective dark adaptation or nyctalopia (night blindness), followed by reduction of the peripheral visual field (known as tunnel vision) and, sometimes, loss of central vision late in the course of the disease.

According to one of the study's Principle Investigators, Dr. Paul Tornambe, "The results from this pre-clinical experiment are exciting. It allows researchers and clinicians to push the envelope in the quest to use stem cells to modulate diseases like Retinitis Pigmentosa." There is currently no medical treatment that can completely cure Retinitis Pigmentosa - an eye disease that affects approximately 1,500,000 people on a worldwide basis each year.

The research has been a very promising one which incorporated development of three kinds of cells from a donor tissue namely - retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), neural (NSC) and cilliary body (CB). These cells were injected within rats with defective retinal diseases. Each of them were treated for one eye, since the other was treated as control. The result obtained from the experiments were summarised as :

The research showed a significant gain (77%) in the treated eye (with RPE cells) over the control eye of the same animal. However, both the treated eye and the control eye were approximately 10 times more active (response to ERG) compared to non-treated (normally dystrophic) control animal. The RPE and NSC cells were effective in preserving the thickness of the outer nuclei layer of the retina. A contra lateral effect was observed between the test and control eyes. As a result, both eyes exhibited significant improvement. It is believed that the positive outcome in the control eye was achieved through the systemic release of cytokines; growth and other important factors; peptides; and, molecules from stem cells transplanted into the treated eye.

gi_retinaThe stem cell in the experiment help to build up the lost cells. Not only that it also stopped the further degeneration of the cells. Another interesting fact that has been seen is, they have an effect on the other eye too, which was not treated. It helped to prevent the degeneration there too. Isn't it amazing?

The 18 month continued research has provided a truly promising result which has encouraged the researchers to go for a clinical trial.

"We knew the team assembled had the experience and expertise to fully explore how stem cells and stem cell factors might be applied in the possible treatment of Retinal Degeneration that may apply to Retinitis Pigmentosa in the future", said Nikolai Tankovich, MD, PhD, Stemedica's President and Chief Medical Officer. "While there have been similar results achieved with our stem cells and factors in the experimental treatment of neurological diseases, we did not expect that these efforts would provide the kind of breakthrough results that have been achieved in our ophthalmological study."

Stemdica™ has previously applied for many patents regarding their stem cell research related to neurodegenrative diseases. This finding will be added to their credit in their patent listing.

"The discovery of the effect of stem cell factors supports our other clinical evidence substantiating how stem cells and stem cell factors can be isolated and used for the treatment of complex medical conditions. Clinical studies in countries outside of the United States have already demonstrated the efficacy of Stemedica's stem cells and their factors in the experimental study treatment of diabetic retinopathy and other conditions. Based upon this breakthrough discovery and validation of our previous evidence, Stemedica has begun negotiations with a select number of potential strategic partners. Our goal is to rapidly advance our findings into a comprehensive clinical application", said Maynard A. Howe, PhD, CEO and Vice Chairman of Stemedica.

The discovery spells some good future for people suffering from retinal dengerative diseases. We can hope that the stem cells research passes out successfully through the clinical testings.

The team involved in the research includes:

aaEdwin Boldrey, MD, a Retina and Vitreous Specialist from Northern California and Charter Member of American Society of Retina Specialists and by Paul Tornambe, MD, of Retinal Consultants in San Diego, California. Dr. Tornambe is a past President of the American Society of Retina Specialists. Other members of the study team included Khristo Takhchidi, MD, PhD; Director General, Natalia Gavrilova, MD, PhD, Professor; and, Olga Komova, MD from the famous Fyodorov Eye Microsurgery Institute in Moscow, Russia. Supporting the principle investigators were Alexander Revischin, PhD, and Irina Saburina, MD, PhD from the Russian Academy of Sciences and by Alexei Lukashev, PhD, of Stemedica's Research Lab in San Diego, California.

Source: PR Web


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