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Neurotherapeutics. 2011 Oct;8(4):736-43. doi: 10.1007/s13311-011-0077-6.

Stem cells for retinal replacement therapy.

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Neural Stem Cell Institute, Rensselaer, NY 12144, USA.


Retinal degenerative disease has limited therapeutic options and the possibility of stem cell-mediated regenerative treatments is being actively explored for these blinding retinal conditions. The relative accessibility of this central nervous system tissue and the ability to visually monitor changes after transplantation make the retina and adjacent retinal pigment epithelium prime targets for pioneering stem cell therapeutics. Prior work conducted for several decades indicated the promise of cell transplantation for retinal disease, and new strategies that combine these established surgical approaches with stem cell-derived donor cells is ongoing. A variety of tissue-specific and pluripotent-derived donor cells are being advanced to replace lost or damaged retinal cells and/or to slow the disease processes by providing neuroprotective factors, with the ultimate aim of long-term improvement in visual function. Clinical trials are in the early stages, and data on safety and efficacy are widely anticipated. Positive outcomes from these stem cell-based clinical studies would radically change the way that blinding disorders are approached in the clinic.

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