Navi Mumbai based Stem Rx Bioscience Solutions Pvt Ltd successfully restored the eyesight of a 58-year-old man with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by cell-based therapy.
Loss of vision caused by AMD can be restored by using the patient’s own stem cells to repair damaged tissue and cure the disease.
“Loss of vision has a huge impact on a person’s life, but many of the disorders that cause blindness are currently difficult or impossible to treat,” Informed Dr. Pradeep Mahajan, Regenerative Medicine Researcher, StemRx Bioscience Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai.
AMD is a condition that affects central vision. It affects the macula, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, due to which the ability to clearly see objects that are straight ahead gets affected. AMD occurs commonly in the elderly, usually after 50 years of age, due to gradual thinning of the macula or even due to abnormal growth of blood vessels under the retina.
The patient, Shyam Karanje, was diagnosed with cataract in October 2015. Few more investigations revealed that there was an abnormal membrane growth in his right eye, which means that he had new, abnormal blood vessels growing in his eye. Thus, he was finally diagnosed with AMD and this was the reason for his diminishing vision. Despite multiple injections of a drug to stop the growth of the blood vessels and prevent leakage, he did not achieve any improvement. He was subsequently advised a type of laser therapy and ultimately surgery, but was informed that the success of the procedures in restoring his vision was unpredictable. Karanje lost almost 75% of his vision since diagnosis.
Dr. Mahajan explained, “After studying the history of the patient, we decided to locally administer cells via eye drops. We planned 3 to 4 sessions of treatment, with each session lasting 3 days. The stem cell vials were regularly provided to the patient to continue the treatment. There was no surgical procedure involved. The patient was instructed to use the cells as eye drops. Neutraceuticals were advised for supportive care.”
He further added, “Cell-based therapy provides new, healthy specialized cells and initiates healing and replacement of damaged cells in the eye. Stem cells have several other functions by which they maintain homeostasis or balance in different organs, including the eye. Normally, stem cells in the eye (and other organs) periodically renew themselves and generate new cells; however, with age this production slows down. Moreover, co-existing conditions like diabetes or any blood vessel-related conditions can further affect the normal functions of stem cells. Thus, conditions like AMD occur.”
Therefore, providing healthy cells will help in regenerating the lost tissues as well as create a healthy environment in the eye that helps in regaining lost functions/vision.
After completing all sessions of the treatment, the patient said, “I used to face problems in performing my daily activities due to weak eyesight. For example, while reading, looking at or searching for household things, walking, and so on, I was unable to clearly see what was in front of me. Due to this, I needed assistance for several day-to-day activities. However, after the treatment, I gradually started noticing improvement in my vision. Even the doctors were positive about the changes. During a check-up, I was able to read the first line in the chart, which was not possible before.”
Later, a retina specialist also confirmed the improvement and suggested routine follow-up alone. The patient was told that he does not need any further treatment as his condition is stable and he is showing constant improvement in vision.