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Medicine Biotech Japan

Stem Cells Grown From Patient's Arm Used To Replace Retina 56

BarbaraHudson writes: The Globe and Mail is reporting the success of a procedure to implant a replacement retina grown from cells from the patient's skin. Quoting: "Transplant doctors are stepping gingerly into a new world, one month after a Japanese woman received the first-ever tissue transplant using stem cells that came from her own skin, not an embryo. On Sept. 12, doctors in a Kobe hospital replaced the retina of a 70-year-old woman suffering from macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. The otherwise routine surgery was radical because scientists had grown the replacement retina in a petri dish, using skin scraped from the patient's arm.

The Japanese woman is fine and her retinal implant remains in place. Researchers around the world are now hoping to test other stem-cell-derived tissues in therapy. Dr. Jeanne Loring from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., expects to get approval within a few years to see whether neurons derived from stem cells can be used to treat Parkinson's disease."
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Stem Cells Grown From Patient's Arm Used To Replace Retina

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  • And now? (Score:5, Funny)

    by drainbramage ( 588291 ) on Friday October 24, 2014 @09:00AM (#48219961)

    And now the patient shows remarkable hand eye coordination.

  • One thing missing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Friday October 24, 2014 @09:25AM (#48220097)
    :I didn't see anything in the article saying the woman could actually see again. The article noted she was " fine"
    • It's a first step. Were you one of those ones who complained "Big deal, so they launched someone into orbit. Call me when they get to the moon."

      The procedure was done last month. We don't know what will happen over the next year. Obviously they're going to take subjects who are pretty much blind to begin with, because why possibly sacrifice partial vision for no vision.

      As research evolves, we learn what works and doesn't (slashdot BETA, anyone?). But the fact that she IS fine is a big thing - it show

      • It's a first step. Were you one of those ones who complained "Big deal, so they launched someone into orbit. Call me when they get to the moon."

        Why no, I wasn't. I was making the apparently stupid and asinine observation that maybe in an article about a homegrown retina replacement from stem cells, that someone somewhere might just be interested in if the thing actually accomplished anything.

        My comment is that the FA was a serious piece of shit.

        Tell me - are you interested at all, in any way shape or form, if the replacement did anything? After all if you have a retina replacement from stem cells, it might be a matter of at least passing inter

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          In previous tests of photoreceptor transplants, it took several months for the recipient to notice a difference. Even if this does have an effect, we won't know for a while.

          • In previous tests of photoreceptor transplants, it took several months for the recipient to notice a difference. Even if this does have an effect, we won't know for a while.

            Now wouldn't that be a good thing to put in the article?

    • by JanneM ( 7445 )

      The purpose of this round of tests is to assess the safety and viability of the procedure. There is no expectation that she will substantially improve her sight. That's a major reason they selected a volunteer her 70's for this, not somebody young.

      • The purpose of this round of tests is to assess the safety and viability of the procedure. There is no expectation that she will substantially improve her sight. That's a major reason they selected a volunteer her 70's for this, not somebody young.

        So is the answer "No" she cannot see? And where did you get the safety and viability quote from?

        My point, which apparently I need to make over and over again is that It is awesome they are trying this. But the article referenced is very, very poor.

        An article about a retinal transplant, where restored vision isn't even noted.

        • by JanneM ( 7445 )

          So is the answer "No" she cannot see? And where did you get the safety and viability quote from?

          Japanese media reported about this earlier this year when they decided to try this and were looking for volunteer patients, as well as now when they want ahead with it. It was made very clear from the start that this was a procedure to test if the cells would survive and not cause any unwanted side effects.

          Kind of the same as with the man who got some feeling back in his legs after a stem cell treatment in Poland

    • :I didn't see anything in the article saying the woman could actually see again. The article noted she was " fine"

      She can't. This was a test of the stem cell transplant, and didn't hook the new cells up to anything that would provide vision.

      There's a gene therapy technique which would have worked, but she didn't get that:

      http://newscenter.berkeley.edu... [berkeley.edu]

  • Fantastic achievement! People with visual disabilities might have a real shot now in future generations.
  • by Egg Sniper ( 647211 ) on Friday October 24, 2014 @09:51AM (#48220259)

    As outlined here [www.ffb.ca], it is the retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells and/or photo-receptors that are being grown and transplanted here. The RPE cells are the supply source for the photo-receptors and comprise the far rear layer of the retina (the neurons of the retina are supplied by blood vessels at the front which you're looking through right now). The photo-receptors, while technically sensory neurons, don't project very far, so replacing them could conceivably restore sensitivity without disrupting the neural connections of the retina. Growing them with the proper alignment to the optics of the eye might be a challenge, though.

    Replacing the whole retina is not yet feasible. The ganglion cells project through the optic nerve all the way to the middle of the brain - you can't just swap these out. The other neurons (amacrine, bipolar, horizontal, etc.) of the retina form very specific types of connections during development, and simply replacing these with new cells won't restore such connections. The RPE cells and photo-receptors are about the only thing that might be replaced to restore some lost sensitivity, and are also the easiest to reach surgically, being near the back [medgadget.com].

    • Makes me wonder about other implications of the olfactory cells used to repair that man's spinal cord that was reported on recently.

      A spinal cord does not do the same signal processing that the retina does, but it too is a long-axon type neural structure. It "Might" be possible to grow a complete retina (rather, complete eyeball-- the complete retina is a rather large part of the rear of the eye.) then attach it to a severed optic nerve using a similar approach.

  • by clovis ( 4684 ) on Friday October 24, 2014 @11:44AM (#48221687)

    http://www.nature.com/news/jap... [nature.com]

    "Age-related macular degeneration results from the breakdown of retinal epithelium, a layer of cells that support photoreceptors needed for vision. The procedure Kurimoto performed is unlikely to restore his patient's vision. However, researchers around the world will be watching closely to see whether the cells are able to check the further destruction of the retina while avoiding potential side effects, such as bringing about an immune reaction or inducing cancerous growth."

    And this:
    http://www.riken-ibri.jp/AMD/e... [riken-ibri.jp]

    "This is a very early-stage form of clinical research, and is intended to assess the safety of this intervention; it is not expected to yield significant improvements in visual acuity or other symptoms in the patients who participate in the study."

    Generally the first stage testing a new clinical technique is to make sure that it does not cause harm. That's what they're doing with this test.

  • What if we can cure macular degeneration but the cure takes a dedicated team of people 20 days to grow the new cells and then costs $1,000,000 dollars? so a person can see for the last 10 years of life?
    When that same $1,000,000 dollars can provide clean water to a village of 200 people?
    While it is not a zero sum game what happens when it gets more and more expensive and adds value for less and less of a persons life?
    What happens when you can live forever but at a cost of a billion dollars a year?

  • I'm going to watch these types of development very closely. I've got the earliest symptoms of macular degeneration, only spotted this early (too early for the retinal thickness measuring laser to definitively measure) due to using astronomical equipment including a hydrogen-alpha scope. Also the fact that I am utterly pedantic about my sight is another factor in my being able to spot the early onset symptoms.
    The prospect of a valid retinal transplant is something that I would certainly look at in the futur

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