In a bid to harness the potential of embryonic stem cells, surgeons in California have implanted lab-grown retinal cells into the eyes of two patients going blind from macular degeneration.
The procedures were carried out on Tuesday by Steven Schwartz, chief of the retina division at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. They were financed by Advanced Cell Technology, a biotech company with laboratories in Marlborough, Massachusetts, that recently won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test the treatment in 24 patients suffering from either dry advanced macular degeneration, or a juvenile form of the disease known as Stargardt's.
The two patients, whose names weren't released, are among the first volunteers ever to receive a treatment created using embryonic stem cells. Last year, another biotech company, Geron, began a small study using stem cells in a bid to repair spinal cord injury.