Stem Cell Treatment for Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is a common eye disorder among people for more than 50 years, associated with visual loss. Macula is the crucial part of human eye, centrally placed and is responsible for acute, central vision, accessing objects that are placed in the straight alignment. It is made up of millions of cells, identified to be rods and cones. These cells are actively involved in sensing light that is being reflected and passed on towards central nervous system in the form of electrical signals through optic nerve. Brain is decoding the information in the form of images that are able to be visualized by us. Macular is very delicate and sensitive part of the retina and is when damaged due to number of external and internal factors; the center of your field of view appears blurry, distorted and/or dark.  Ageing people are believed to be at higher risk of macular damage; however, in the recent investigations, number of other risk factors have been identified, such as lifestyle, smoking, genetic predisposition, etc, that may have impact on eye sight degeneration. 

Infusion of stem cells in degenerative eye disorders, like macular degeneration has shown to be having very promising potential. In this regard, the current write-up is intended to offer a great insight in stem cells mechanism and disease pathophysiology. 

Stem cells are identified to be the youngest cells of our body, with the ability to differentiate into cells of multiple origin. These cells are first noted at the time of embryonic development in the mother womb, and are further explored to be cells responsible for developing an entire cellular make up of an individual. This extensive ability of stem cells has been utilized by the science and technology to treat variety of degenerated disorders. Technological advancements have allowed easy isolation of these stem cells from the adult sources of our body like bone marrow, adipose tissue, etc. These stem cells, when isolated and enriched outside the human body can be infused back at the site of injury to allow instant initiation of a process of cellular regeneration. In the case of eye disorders, generally intra vitreal and retrobulbar infusion of stem cells has been preferred, for maximum recovery. 

Studies have elaborated that these stem cells when infused directly at the site of injury, allow rapid secretion of anti-inflammatory growth factors to support a creation of a suitable microenvironment. The formation of suitable niche may help to stimulate resident stem cells and divide rapidly to give rise to tissue specific cells. A strong immune regulation property of these stem cells has been identified to be helpful for delayed degeneration, further reducing the disease progression. 

Thus, more and more trials are getting registered on each day, to evaluate safety and feasibility of stem cells infusion; moreover, studies completed so far, have evidently suggested that these stem cells, since isolated from body’s own tissue do not pose any threat of immune rejection and other opportunistic infection and hence can be safely allowed to be exploited for further therapeutic application.