Retinal cell transplants show promising results in study

Encouraging results were achieved in preliminary research of the transplantation of retinal cells in patients with blindness caused by retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration, according to a report in the August issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

Louisville, KY-Encouraging results were achieved in preliminary research of the transplantation of retinal cells in patients with blindness caused by retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a report in the August issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

Lead author, Norman D. Radtke, MD, PSC, University of Louisville, KY, and colleagues performed experimental transplants in 10 patients, six patients with RP and four with the dry form of AMD, in this FDA-monitored study.

Fetal retinal cells were implanted along with their attached retinal pigment epithelium, which nourishes the photoreceptor cells-the concept being that the new cells would grow to replace the damaged photoreceptor cells, connecting the patient's remaining retina.

Visual improvements were found during follow-up testing in seven of the 10 patients: three patients with RP and all four patients with AMD. Vision remained in the "legally blind" range, however, the gains in vision were significant.

"This clinical evidence shows the promise of our method to alter progressive vision loss due to incurable degenerative diseases of the retina," commented Dr. Radtke.