Worcester, MA June 11, 2009 (EurekAlert)--Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (OTC:ACTC.PK) and its collaborators at OHSU reported today the long-term safety and efficacy of human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) produced under manufacturing conditions suitable for human clinical trials. Two important early potential hESC applications are the use of RPE for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration and Stargardt disease, an untreatable form of eye disease that leads to early-onset blindness. The research, which appears online ahead of print in the journal Stem Cells, shows long-term functional rescue using hESC-derived cells in both the RCS rat and Elov14 mouse, animal models of retinal degeneration and Stargardt, respectively. The cells survived transplantation for prolonged periods (>220 days) and sustained visual function without tumor formation or untoward pathological reactions. Near-normal functional rescue was also achieved in the 'Stargardt' mouse. To further address safety concerns, a study was carried out in the NIH III immune deficient mouse model. Long-term data (spanning the life of the animals) revealed no evidence of tumor formation after transplantation.
"We're delighted with these results," said Robert Lanza, Chief Scientific Officer at ACT, and co-senior author of the study. "Everything looks great so far. Based on these and other studies, we're on schedule to file an IND with the FDA to begin human clinical trials sometime in the next 3 or 4 months. Barring any surprises, Stargardt disease and macular degeneration are likely to be the next two clinical applications of ES technology.
Since their discovery over a decade ago, hESCs have been considered a promising source of replacement cells for clinical studies. However, problems continue to plague clinical translation, including the risk of teratoma formation and the need for powerful drugs to overcome the problem of immune
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Advanced Cell Technology