The world's first clinical trial of a transplant of visual cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) was performed in Japan to treat a patient with pigmentary retinal degeneration.
The clinical trial was conducted at Kobe City Eye Hospital. Pigmentary retinal degeneration is caused by a progressive loss of photoreceptor cells in the retina and can lead to trouble seeing at night. Currently, there is no known treatment for the condition, which is believed to be caused by gene mutations.
The transplant team used iPS cells grown from the blood cells of a healthy donor. The transplant recipient will be monitored for a year to make sure the body does not reject the transplanted cells and to make sure that the new cells communicate "sight" with existing cells in the body and transmit information to the brain. A second patient will receive a transplant as well.