Human Stem Cells in Curing Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
The hypothesis of the research proposed is that if human embryonic stem cells were differentiated into retinal cells before surgically being transplanted into the damaged retinas of patients with Age-Related Macular Degeneration, then normal vision will be restored.
The main aim of the proposal will be investigating the ability of the retinas in Age-Related Macular Degeneration patients to repair themselves efficiently when replaced with human embryonic stem cells.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration is a disease that evolves with age affecting a large number of people worldwide and is the main leading cause of blindness in the United States in elderly people. AMD mainly affects the macula that is located in the center of the retina. The macula is the main part of the eye responsible for fine vision that becomes totally impaired in AMD patients preventing them from clear vision and performing common daily tasks such as reading and driving (1).
Two forms of AMD are known: dry form (known as nonneovascular or atrophic) and wet form (known as neovascular). The Dry form results from disturbance of macular pigmentation and deposits of yellowish material under the pigment epithelial layer in retina. In the Wet form, abnormal new blood vessels start growing under the retina and leak fluid and blood (choroidal neovascularization) causing impaired macular function. This leads to loss of central vision then blindness. Ninety percent of patients with AMD have the dry form that is less likely than the wet form to cause blindness (2). Age has been the main risk factor for developing AMD; recently, other factors have been identified such as smoking, obesity, race, family history and gender (1).
Treatment options of AMD are still very limited due to the fact that there is no mechanism to detect the disease at its earliest stages. At the late stages of the disease,...