Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) is a frequent retinal neurodegenerative disorder that eventually leads to severe blindness. ARMD is a complex disease, triggered by several environmental as well as susceptibility genetic factors. There is no current effective treatment that can halt the progressive loss of retinal pigment epithelium, the phenotypic hallmark of ARMD.
Very promising results have been recently reported after the first cell therapy clinical trial in a limited number of patients suffering advanced ARMD. In this phase I/II trial performed in California (US), a thin layer of a synthetic biomaterial covered by a monolayer of retinal pigment epithelium cells differentiated from human embryonic stem cells has been engrafted in the macula of one eye in several patients. After one year, the implant has been shown to be safe and efficient, since no implanted eye showed progression of vision loss and several patients reported visual acuity improvement.