January 25, 2012
Two blind people have shown signs of being able to see again – despite having incurable eye disease – following a revolutionary operation involving the transplant of stem cells derived from a human embryo.
A third patient, a Yorkshire man who volunteered to take part in a similar trial in Britain, had a similar transplant operation last week involving the injection of embryonic stem cells into the damaged retina at the back of the eye.
The three people are the first wave of patients to receive controversial transplants of embryonic cells as part of an ambitious attempt to treat a range of incurable diseases with stem cells that have the power to develop into any of the dozens of specialised tissues of the body.
The two American patients, who each received transplants in just one of their eyes last year, have not shown any signs of serious side effects, such as tissue rejection or the development of tumours, according to a study to be published later this week in The Lancet.