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Patient's Own Stem Cells May Provide Treatment for AMD

Stem cells that can be derived from patients may? provide a possible treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Unlike embryonic stem cells which can cause an immune rejection in the patient, induced stem cells are taken from the patient directly. The cells in question are known as retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells and they are vital for visual function. Researchers hope that transplanting fresh RPE cells from the patient into the patient's retina will allow the photoreceptors (rods and cones) in the patient's eye to stay healthy, which will in turn prevent vision loss. In a paper published in last week's PloS One, researchers worked with rats that have a mutation which causes a defect in RPE cells which ultimately leads to vision loss. The researchers discovered that by surgically inserting the stem cell-derived RPE into the rats' retinas before photoreceptor degeneration, they were able to retain the vision of the rats. While the scientists note that much more research needs to be done, they are encouraged by the findings of this study and hope that this type of stem-cell based therapy will prove to be an effective treatment for AMD. Andrea Schumann Staff Writer

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