Scientists in United Kingdom seek stem-cell cure for AMD

June 13, 2007

London-Three institutions in the United Kingdom have joined together in a project they say could restore sight to the 25% of those aged 60 or more years there who have age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

London-Three institutions in the United Kingdom have joined together in a project they say could restore sight to the 25% of those aged 60 or more years there who have age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The London Project to Cure Blindness aims to develop a therapy whereby defective retinal pigment epithelial cells in patients with AMD would be replaced with new cells generated using human embryonic stem cells. The replacement cells would be developed in a laboratory and then would be injected into patients’ eyes.

The effort, funded by an $8 million private gift from an anonymous donor in the United States, involves the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology, Moorfields Eye Hospital, and the University of Sheffield. Researchers expect to treat the first patient in 5 years.

“This is achievable as a result of bringing together a number of groups [that] previously were trying to solve the same problem in isolation,” said Prof. Peter J. Coffey of the institute, who is directing the London Project. “The project aims to engage scientists, clinicians, and the public to ensure success through actively attracting and promoting the inclusion of other laboratories, hospitals, and institutions by an open-access policy and by informing the public of progress.”