There are many diseases that attack specific organs, landing patients on a transplant list. Unfortunately, our bodies have markers that identify an organ as “self,” which makes it difficult to find an organ match. Many individuals die waiting for an organ transplant because a match can’t be found.
The shortage of organ donors has always bothered me. I feel like organ donation should be opt out, not opt in. Still, with advances like this, maybe it won’t be necessary at all in the future.
Surgeons in London have carried out a pioneering human embryonic stem cell operation in an ongoing trial to find a cure for blindness for many patients.
They’ll have to wait til at least Christmas to see if the patients’ vision has improved and if it is sustainable.
They used an embryonic stem cell in an attempt to rebuild the RPE, which is how they can apply it to dry AMD (I did not gather that any drusen would be removed, but I guess it would strengthen the integrity of the RPE after suffering mottling/RPED’s, and thus prevent the choroid from breaking through???). This might, one day, potentially cure only “wet” macular degeneration (MD). Wet is the less common (10%) kind of MD, but there are still going to be millions affected by the more common “dry” (non-leaking) type of MD.
That said, a company called OCATA has halted blindness from MD (dry and Stargardt’s) in 17 out of 18 patients, and actually improved vision in 10. They have patented a technique to regrow stem cells and they are the real deal, now in Phase II I believe.