Stem cells: a new paradigm for disease modeling and developing therapies for age-related macular degeneration.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 55 in the U.S. and the developed world. This condition leads to the progressive impairmen of central visual acuity. There are significant limitations in the understanding of disease progression in AMD as well as a lack of effective methods of treatment. Lately, there has been considerable enthusiasm for application of stem cell biology for both disease modeling and therapeutic application. Human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have been used in cell culture assays and in vivo animal models. Recently a clinical trial was approved by FDA to investigate the safety and efficacy of the human embryonic stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) transplantation in sub-retinal space of patients with dry AMD These studies suggest that stem cell research may provide both insight regarding disease development and progression, as well as direction for therapeutic innovation for the millions of patients afflicted with AMD.
Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2012 May;23(3):226-34. doi: 10.1097/ICU.0b013e328352407d.