Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans sixty years and older. Currently, it is an incurable disease. Stem cell therapy is the idea of transplanting stem cells to replace damaged cells in the body. As the demand for transplantable organs far outweighs the supply, stem cells are an encouraging alternative to replace damaged cells. Can stem cell therapy be the first cure for macular degeneration? Many experiments have been done on transplanting stem cells into the eyes of rats with macular degeneration yielding promising results. The first transplantation of retinal pigmented epithelial stem cells into humans to treat macular degeneration was done in 2012. Stem cells were differentiated and inserted into two patients suffering from macular degeneration. Both patients that partook in the study displayed significant visual improvement, and no abnormal growth was observed. In another study, the use of retinal epithelial cells vs. the use of other types of eye cells to treat macular degeneration was studied. Each cell type has the same potential for use in stem cell therapy. Stem cell therapy is a hopeful option for treatment of macular degeneration. Further research is needed before it can be used as a widespread cure.
Stern, B. (2016). Stem Cell Therapy and Macular Degeneration. The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences, 10 (1). Retrieved from http://touroscholar.touro.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1021&context=sjlcas