Stem cell therapy for retinal disease.

Stem cell therapy for retinal disease.

Tibbetts MDSamuel MAChang TSHo AC.


Wills Eye Institute Retina Service, Mid Atlantic Retina, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.



Stem cell therapy holds great promise for the treatment of retinal diseases. This review summarizes recent advances instem cell biology, outlines ongoing clinical trials and details the obstacles that must be overcome for stem cell therapy to be a viable treatment for retinal disease.


Stem cells can now be directed to specific retinal cell fates with high yields and acceptable purity for clinical trials. New stemcell sources have been discovered including induced pluripotent stem cells that can be derived from adult tissues then differentiated into multiple retinal cell types. The initial results of clinical trials of subretinal transplantation of human embryonic stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium cellsin patients with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy and dry age-related macular degeneration showed preliminary safety and possible visual acuity benefits. A phase I trial of intravitreally injected autologous bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells for hereditary retinal dystrophy demonstrated no evidence of toxicity with possible visual acuity benefits but no structural or functional changes. Ongoing trials are examining the trophic effects of undifferentiated umbilical cells for the treatment of geographic atrophy in age-related macular degeneration.


Stem cell therapy is a promising treatment under active investigation in multiple retinal diseases. Ongoing clinical trials should yield further insights into the potential for stem cell-based retinal therapies.
PMID:22450217[PubMed – in process]