Cedars-Sinai investigators have received funding to launch a clinical trial to test the safety of using stem-cell technology as a potential treatment for retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited eye disease with no known cure, it was announced Wednesday.
The trial, approved by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year, has been awarded $10.5 million by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state-funded stem cell research institute.
Retinitis pigmentosa gradually destroys the photoreceptor cells of the retina — the structure in the back of the eye that detects light. The disease, believed to affect more than 80,000 people in the United States, typically manifests as poor night vision early in life and progresses to legal blindness in adulthood.
The clinical trial involves injecting a cortical progenitor cell product known as CNS10-NPC into the eye. Progenitor cells, descendants of the body’s stem cells, can make certain other cells.
In tests with laboratory animals, Dr. Shaomei Wang — professor of Biomedical Sciences and a research scientist in the Eye Program at the Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute — and her colleagues showed that these injected cells migrated and formed a new layer of cells adjacent to the photoreceptor cells. These new cells slowed degeneration of the retina and preserved vision, according to the hospital.
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