Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a progressive disease where the macula —the cells at the central portion of the retina— deteriorates. The macula is responsible for focusing central vision, controlling our ability to read, drive, recognize faces and colors, and see fine details.
With macular degeneration, images are not received correctly. In the early stages of the disease, vision is not affected; however, as the disease progresses, people experience wavy or blurred vision, and, if the condition continues to worsen, central vision may be completely lost. There are two types of Age-Related Macular Degeneration: dry (atrophic) and wet (neovascular or exudative).
One of the most promising areas of research with human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is the collaborative work of Prof. Eyal Banin, Director of Hadassah Medical Organization’s Center for Retinal and Macular Degeneration, and Prof. Benjamin Reubinoff, Director of HMO’s Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center.Their research, which has focused on the dry form of the disease, is aimed at halting age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Since age-related macular degeneration is caused by dysfunction in cells of the retina, called retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells, bolstering and replacing the failing cells has the potential to slow progression of the disease. Once the HMO team identified the necessary conditions for hESCs to become RPE cells in the laboratory, they were able to produce cells that are practically identical to those in the human eye.
Then the research team transplanted the cells into a rodent model with retinal disease and found that the cells significantly rescued the retina’s structure and ability to function.
- Additional clinical trials using stem cells to slow, and potentially reverse, the progression of age-related macular degeneration.
With the aging baby boomer population, the diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration will rise exponentially.
Worldwide, medical research disproportionately focuses on men – leading to misdiagnosis and compromised care for women. Join Hadassah and advocate for gender equity in medical research (GEM). Learn more at hadassah.org/GEM