The unlimited potential of stem cell research was highlighted by scientists and medical researchers as soon as they managed to unlock some of its secrets. It has already become the center of more than a few amazing medical breakthroughs. One such a breakthrough was the restoration of a patient’s vision using a state-of-the-art method.
Even though the treatment took place back in 2014, the results were announced only recently. The person who underwent the whole operation was a 70-year-old woman suffering from age-related macular degeneration (known as AMD), a medical condition that causes severe blur in the patient’s vision. It is also widespread since, according to experts, it is the number one cause of vision deterioration among old people.
Using the new revolutionary technique, Japanese researchers took a tiny piece of her arm skin (its diameter was only 4mm) and genetically modified its cells turning them into iPSC (induced pluripotent stem cells). It is a very remarkable cell category since they are able to change their structural characteristics and become any one of a wide range of tissues found in the human body. This is the reason why the cells that would be used to treat an eye condition were taken from the patient’s skin.
The aforementioned skin cells were “turned into” ones that belong to the retinal pigment epithelium and were later placed into an extremely thin membrane. That membrane was then transplanted in the woman’s eyes, right behind the retina.
One of the most amazing facts of this whole operation was that there were literally zero side effects. No rejection of the transplant or any other signs of adversity were documented, plus the patient stated that her vision did, in fact, improve.
Needless to say that this is still an experimental method, one that will definitely be improved in the future in order to achieve even higher goals, but the results so far are very promising. This breakthrough is not the only eye related treatment that took place recently. There is also a case in the USA, where another woman who had 0% vision for about 5 years, managed to have it partially restored after another stem cell treatment with cells that scientists took from her bone marrow.
The steps that are being taken are small but steady. Intense studying and clinical trials are guaranteed to bring us closer to fully healing vision loss not only in older people but also men and women of various ages who suffer from eye issues that deteriorate the quality of their lives.