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What is this promising treatment ?
To replace sick cells in the patient's eye with new cells.
As we know from animal experiments, the transplanted sheets connect with the remaining healthy cells of the patientís' retina and continue to grow, and in this way repair a part of the eye. Retinal sheets together with a layer of supporting cells were dissected from immature eyes and were placed into the damaged eye of patients.
Out of 10 patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa [RP] or Age-related Macular Degeneration [AMD], vision was improved in 7 patients and degeneration stopped in 1 patient after one year.
The largest obstacle to overcome is that we were using fetal tissue. Many expect that stem cell-generated tissue in the near future will be able to substitute fetal cells. Others predict that it is likely a long way before stem cells will be clinically applicable for the retina. We agree and are working towards this goal.
In the meantime, NOW fetal cells can temporarily help many people with retinal diseases until something comparable can be developed.
Our best patient (presented in page 40 of "Optic and Photonic News" (OPN), April 2008) started out with 20/800 in her surgery eye and improved to 20/160 after 1 year, remaining 20/200 after 5 years.
This patient recommends this surgery despite being pro-life, as the patient honors the discarded tissue as very valuable that can help sick people.
Surgery will be free for all patients because it is still regarded as experimental, but the patient must commit to travel to the Surgical Center 2 times before and at regular intervals after the surgery, according to the Study protocol. Examination will be free.
The surgery will also follow the strict regulations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's oversight that protects the patient's interests in the first place. It is a standard surgery called "vitrectomy" that most good eye surgeons are familiar with.
The eye however is a very delicate organ and it can happen that different surgeries in the eye have side effects. However our surgery method and instrument is very gentle; and so far out of our 20 patients nobody has had any side effects which we are very pleased to mention.
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