Stem Cells May Reverse Blindness in Women

Scientists thrilled by use of embryonic cells
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2012 4:00 PM CST
A new stem-cell study has reversed blindness in two women.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A treatment made from embryonic stem cells is apparently restoring sight in two women who were slowly going blind, NPR reports. "I can't tell you how excited I am about this," says Steven Schwartz, a UCLA opthamologist leading the research. "For these patients, the impact is enormous." Scientists injected retinal cells into the women's eyes, hoping to counteract Stargardt's macular dystrophy in one and dry age-related macular degeneration in the other.

"One day, I looked down and I could see my watch," says one subject, aged 78. "I probably hadn't seen it in about a year and a half or two." The other, a graphic artist in her fifties, says she's doing chores more easily and even riding a bike. Doctors warn that the results are highly preliminary, but they're continuing with 22 other subjects who suffer from the same ailments. It's only the second FDA-approved study with embryonic stem cells since scientists discovered them in 1998. (Read more stem cells stories.)

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