The Visionaries: Sight for sore eyes

The eye has been a focus for several companies and academics to realise the potential of stem cell therapy. As the eye is immunoprivileged there is less chance of rejection or immune response. Also, end outcome is easier to access, and if required the cells can be directly observed at site of transplantation
The Institute of Opthalmology (IoO), UCL is at the forefront of most of developments with pioneering research, moving forward basic science into clinical trials.
Currently there are 2 clinical trials being undertaken in the UK in opthalmology using cell ular therapy: At Newcastle University using ex-vivo expanded limbal stem cells, and Advanced Cell Technology using Retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells for Stargardt's disease at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Princess Alexandra Eye Pavillion, Edinburgh

Professor Francisco Figueiredo at Newcastle University is leading a Phase II clinical trial using Autologous limbal stem cells for unilateral limbal stem cell deficiency. The trial involves taking limbal stem cells from the patients healthy eye, which are then grown on an amniotic membrane expanded ex vivo and transplanted onto the eye. This can be used to treat patients who have had damage to their eye by acid/alkali that is very painful. Results from their first trial, showed significant decrease in pain in every patient and improvement in eye sight. The GMP manufacture for the current clinical trial is undertaken at the Newcastle Bioscience Cellular Therapy Facility. Look at this presentation for more details of the IMP manufacture.