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First patient receives new treatment for AMD

Breakthrough in trial to cure blindness

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A pioneering trial of a new treatment for ‘wet’ age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has got underway, with the first patient successfully receiving surgery. 

The first operation is being viewed as a major milestone in the London Project to Cure Blindness, which was established nearly a decade ago with the aim of curing vision loss in patients with wet AMD. 

The trial, in partnership with UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), is investigating the safety and efficacy of transplanting eye cells (retinal pigment epithelium) derived from stem cells to treat people with sudden severe visual loss from wet AMD. 

These cells are used to replace those at the back of the eye that are diseased in AMD. This is done using a specially engineered patch inserted behind the retina in an operation lasting one to two hours.

The first surgery was successfully performed on a patient last month and there have been no complications to date.

“There is real potential that people with wet age-related macular degeneration will benefit in the future from transplantation of these cells,” says retinal surgeon Professor Lyndon Da Cruz from Moorfields Eye Hospital, who is performing the operations and is co-leading the London Project.

Professor Pete Coffey of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, the other co-lead, said: “We are tremendously pleased to have reached this stage in the research for a new therapeutic approach. Although we recognise this clinical trial focuses on a small group of AMD patients who have experienced sudden severe visual loss, we hope that many patients may benefit in the future.”

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