Stem Cell Therapy
Cell or stem cell replacement therapy is another form of treatment that is being tried. Initially, Embryonic stem cells (ESC) from fetal cells were used in research. In 2008, Prof Yamanaka from Japan showed that peripheral tissue from an adult (either skin or venous blood sample) can be used to reprogram the cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) which can then be converted into various stem cells, including cells of the retina.
Since these do not change the genes, and instead deliver cells that possibly will form synaptic formation with the other cells in the retina, these do not have to be specific to each mutation. There are a few clinical trials trying to replace the damaged retinal cells with stem cells (www.clinicaltrials.gov)
Eyestem, a stem- cell organozation housed within CCAMP, Bangalore, works towards developing scalable cell replacement therapies for AMD and inherited retinal diseases. Read more at www.eyestem.com