Sheraz Daya, Medical Director of Centre for Sight was interviewed by Sky News, London Live and Channel 5 on 29th September, 2015.
As someone who has expertise on stem cells and tissue engineering, he was asked his views on stem cell technology developed at University College of London and Moorfields Eye Hospital for age related macular degeneration.
In the new technique, a stem cells derived from an embryonic cell is grown in the lab to create a single layer of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells on an artificial membrane. This membrane is inserted into the eye under the retina and at the macula. The hope is that restoring the cells will allow the retina to regenerate.
A healthy RPE layer is critical to normal sight. When these cells are damaged or lost, they are thought to lead to AMD.
A previous study used stem cells in a solution but was not aimed at reversing sight loss or producing a therapy. This is the first time experts have used a “patch” technique using embryonic cells with the aim of reversing vision loss in patients. The trial began with patients with wet AMD because there is potential to restore their sight faster following sudden vision loss. AMD, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults, affects one specific area of cells that are either damaged or completely missing.
The operation was carried out in the London Project to Cure Blindness- partnership between Moorfields, the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology and the National Institute for Health Research.
Centre for Sight has expertise in the front of the eye and although they perform stem cell transplants, these are for the front of the eye and restoring the top layer of the cornea. For those interested in learning more about the applications of stem cells for retinal conditions including macular degeneration, please contact Moorfields Eye Hospital on 020 7253 3411 or visit their website http://www.moorfields.nhs.uk