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Mutation alert halts stem cell trial to cure blindness


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Mutation alert halts stem cell trial to cure blindness

 

Date: 07/08/2015


A PIONEERING stem-cell trial has been halted after genetic mutations were discovered in the cells of a participant. One of the mutations may carry a remote risk of cancer.

The trial is the first to explore whether cells known as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can be used to treat disease. These are made by taking cells from someone’s skin and using a cocktail of chemicals to “rewind” them to a stem-cell-like state. This means they have the potential to turn into almost any other type of cell, allowing them to be converted into the type required, before being transplanted back.

In this trial, skin cells were turned into retinal cells in an attempt to reverse the damage to eyes caused by age-related macular degeneration, which leads to loss of vision and can cause blindness. The first patient, a 70-year-old woman, was treated last September and is reportedly in good health.

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Source: New Scientist

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