San Francisco, CA, October 22, 2013 A study performed at Children's Hospital Los Angeles found no evidence that stem cell therapy improves vision for children with optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH). Their results are reported in the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS).
ONH, an underdevelopment of optic nerves that occurs during fetal development, may appear either as an isolated abnormality or as part of a group of disorders characterized by brain anomalies, developmental delay, and endocrine abnormalities. ONH is a leading cause of blindness in children in North America and Europe and is the only cause of childhood blindness that shows increasing prevalence. No treatments have been shown to improve vision in these children.
With no viable treatment options available to improve vision, ophthalmologists are becoming aware that families with children affected by ONH are travelling to China seeking stem cell therapy, despite lack of approval in the United States and Europe or evidence from controlled trials. The American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus has also expressed its concern about these procedures. In response to this situation, pediatric neuro-ophthalmologist Mark Borchert, MD, Director of both the Eye Birth Defects and Eye Technology Institutes in The Vision Center at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, realized that a controlled trial of sufficient size was needed to evaluate whether stem cell therapy is effective at improving optic nerve function in children with ONH. He agreed to conduct an independent study when asked by Beike Biotech, a company based in Shenzhen, China, that offers treatment for ONH using donor umbilical cord stem cells injected into the cerebral spinal fluid.
Beike Biotech agreed to identify 10 children with bilateral ONH (ages 7-17 years) who had volunteered to travel to China for stem cell therapy and who agreed to partici
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Elsevier Health Sciences