Pluripotential stem cells as replacement therapy in degenerative diseases of the eye
Loss of vision has devastating effects on the quality of life of both individuals and their caregivers as well as causing a huge economic burden to families and society. It has been estimated that by 2020 there will be almost 200 million people worldwide losing sight because of dying photoreceptors in age related macular degeneration (AMD). Intense efforts are underway to develop therapies that can prevent or block photoreceptor loss in AMD. These efforts include lifestyle changes, nutritional supplements and neuroprotective agents, but to date they have had only marginal success. These approaches also do not help the growing numbers who have already lost photoreceptors. Another major line of research to help those patients, and the one reviewed thoroughly by Gagliardi et al., (1) is to develop transplantable photoreceptors that can integrate into the retina, restore light sensitivity and, hopefully, restore vision.