A pioneering trial of a new treatment derived from stem cells for people with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has commenced at Moorfields Eye Hospital following a successful operation on a patient.
This first operation is a major milestone in the London Project to Cure Blindness, which was established 10 years ago with the aim of curing vision loss in patients with wet AMD, and is the result of a partnership between the hospital, the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Pfizer Inc. joined the partnership in 2009 with the goal of helping to turn the original idea into a potential therapy.
The trial is investigating the safety and efficacy of transplanting retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) derived from stem cells to treat people with sudden severe visual loss from wet AMD. These cells are used to replace damaged RPE at the back of the eye that are diseased in AMD, using a specially engineered patch inserted subretinally in surgery that lasts approximately one to two hours.
The first surgery was successfully performed on a patient last month and there have been no complications to date. The patient wishes to remain anonymous, but the team hope to determine her outcome in terms of initial visual recovery by early December (2015).
The trial will recruit 10 patients in total over a period of 18 months. Each patient will be followed for a year to assess the safety and stability of the cells and whether there is an effect in restoring vision.