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Medicine Science

Stem Cell Treatment To Cure the Most Common Cause of Blindness 126

The Times Online reports that researchers from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London and Moorfields eye hospital have developed stem cell therapy that can treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness. They are currently moving the treatment through the regulatory approval process, and clinical trials are expected to start within two years. Quoting: "Under the new treatment, embryonic stem cells are transformed into replicas of the missing cells. They are then placed on an artificial membrane which is inserted in the back of the retina. ... [Professor Pete Coffey, director of the London Project to Cure Blindness] said the treatment would take 'less than an hour, so it really could be considered as an outpatient procedure. We are trying to get it out as a common therapy.'
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Stem Cell Treatment To Cure the Most Common Cause of Blindness

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  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday April 19, 2009 @09:26AM (#27635931) Homepage
    I feel sorry for Larry Niven. Back in the 1960s and 1970s he was writing works of science fiction (e.g. the Gilm 'The Arm' Hamilton stories in Flatlander [amazon.com] ) that suggested that organ transplants were going to be so widespread as a cure that even the most minor crimes would get the death penalty. Instead, it looks like the human race may realize stem cell cures faster than anyone could have imagined. Oh, and Kurzweil suggests we'll all be in robot bodies before the century's end, so those great hard science fiction writers of half a century ago fall even further behind.
  • by physburn ( 1095481 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @09:40AM (#27636013) Homepage Journal
    So pleased at the news, losing my eyes, is my number one fear, no eyes = no computers games, no programming, and no porn. Blindness would be sure hell.

    Reading the article, is hardly ready for use, so far only tested on rats and pigs. There'll be many years of trials before its ready for use on people. Plus Stem cells have be known to turn cancerous, cancer of the retina, would be quickly fatal, there so close to the brain.

    Stem cells have tremendous potential to cure disease and even to reverse the aging process. The next twenty years of research might total change the sad process of aging in human.

    Stem cells [feeddistiller.com] feed at Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @10:52AM (#27636529) Journal
    And I think that anyone who is opposed to embryonic stem cell research should not be allowed to have this treatment, should they need it and testing proves it successful.

    Let them go blind.


  • by TomHandy ( 578620 ) <tomhandyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday April 19, 2009 @01:05PM (#27637375)
    In all seriousness, it will cause an interesting moral choice for those people then. As you said, there are people who genuinely hold those values, but I don't think it would be such an easy cut and dry decision for some of them if it could mean something like restoring sight. Or, say, even if not for them, but if the sight of one of their children could be restored. Not saying everyone would give in, but it would not always be an easy choice. Not to put it on the same level, but it's like how many people have an objection on paper to something like abortion, but when actually confronted with it, they don't always act based on their objections.
  • The Real Problem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @03:01PM (#27638239)

    So let's say they come up with a cure for something, anything, using embryonic stem cells.

    The next logical step is to produce this cure in production quantities. How long until the supply of embryos in storage from artificial insemination attempts, etc. are exhausted?

    What then? The only option is pay men and women for their sperm and eggs so that they can produce the embryos from which to harvest the stem cells. I understand that extracting eggs is an expensive and painful process. Of course, give a guy a Hustler and he's good to go.

    So in order to commercialize the cure, even in limited quantities, you essentially have to set up embryo factories.

    If that does not give you pause, then there is something wrong with you.

  • Religous FUD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by omb ( 759389 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @04:41PM (#27639153)
    I continue to be appalled by the bigoted and histrionic comments of religious Americans who do not seem to understand that not even all Christians agree with them let alone the rest of us, and then Squabble endlessly over exactly what Bush's disastrous decision in Health was, again never mind his contributions to Foreign Affairs or the Economy. He set health research back eight years while presiding over un-necessary wars and the de-regulation of the financial system which has resulted in the greatest depression in four generations and the rise of more crooks, fraudsters and scam agents to shake a stick at.

    For the record I, and most outside the US, do not care whether the stem cells are embryonic or not, so long as the medics have the genetic material, and that means diversity of genes, to search for cure to debiliting illnesses especially as there is a surplus of fetuses for other reasons.

    Restoring pluri-potence to the patients own cells may well be desirable but is not essential as various gene splicing and gene injection techniques generate neither cancer or rejection as some comments, clearly FUD from the US rabid right suggested.

    What is clearly necessary is better scientific education and that is better done by paying attention in school rather than church.

    Thank goodness Obama at least sounds rational.

BLISS is ignorance.