Still, the public is welcome to learn about stem cell research at the 19th annual Vision Research Symposia this week.
"Patients always do ask but we haven't quite gotten there yet," said Dr.
Two identical events with researchers from Schepens are Friday at the
An affiliate of
One of the speakers is Dr.
"The first transplant was done in
This clinical study is in its first phase of a trial and no report has been issued yet about the findings. Findings may come out in a report in May at the
"It's a huge conference, 15,000 people," Young said.
The clinical study uses human embryonic stem cells that
"We are waiting to see if those cells survive," he said, but added a major concern is whether the cells grow into tumors.
The 22 patients have not fully lost their vision and the goal is to see if their vision is preserved, he said.
"I've done a lot of this in pigs, it's about the same, 45 minutes to an hour, and it will be about the same in a patient," Young said.
A study Schepens is starting next year will involve a different approach with stem cells to potentially restore vision among people who have retinitis pigmentosa. The study will use a different line of stem cells and aims to replace the two types of photoreceptors in the retina, the rods and cones.
Young said Schepens is forming a clinical advisory board and the clinical trial is expected to get fast-track status with the
The hope is to get the approval to start the study with patients the first quarter of 2015, he said.
Overall, stem cell studies are focused on safety and are not designed to achieve success, Young said. One drawback is stem cells are injected by needle under the retina, he said.
That approach doesn't enable the stem cells to attach and thrive so he believes they ultimately die. He wants to see a different transplantation approach, using a surgical scalpel, where the cells can be placed under the retina in such a way they attach and grow.
"That will be one or two years (away) and then we will start to see real effects," he said. "We will have to see cells persist and see the long term functional benefits in this."
When asked when stem cell therapy for people with these eye diseases may become a reality, he estimated it is four to five years away.
In the meantime, Raskauskas said patients with age-related macular degeneration have seen vast improvements with injections. The injections are for the wet form of the disease, to stop abnormal blood vessels from growing behind the retina and under the macular, which leak and damages the macular.
"We are so much better than we were 10 years ago because of the injections," Raskauskas said, adding that some patients have been scaled back on how often they need the shots. "Some people have gone for eight weeks (without injections) before they develop new bleeds."
For more information, contact
(c)2014 the Naples Daily News (Naples, Fla.)
Visit the Naples Daily News (Naples, Fla.) at www.naplesnews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services