Stem Cell Restored Vision To Blind Man Using Human Embryos

Stem cells restored the vision to a blind man who suffered from the degeneration of his retinal cells.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, not only can stem cells restore vision to the blind, they can also cook up one interesting hamburger. The cost of this hamburger was $325,000, but scientists hope over time the process can be used to generate vat-grown meat for everyone (so, instead of tasting gamey, is it vatty?).

Since 2011, Advanced Cell Technology has been conducting human trials on using human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to reverse two common causes of blindness, including dry age-related macular degeneration and Stargardt’s macular dystrophy. These diseases cause people to gradually lose retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, which feed and clean photoreceptors necessary to capture light and send signals to the brain.

The stem cells restored vision from 20/400, which is considered legally blind, to 20/40, which is enough to drive a car. This was done by converting human embryonic stem cells into RPE cells and then transplanting them beneath the retina.

Gary Rabin, chairman and CEO of Advanced Cell Technology, says stem cells restoring vision to the blind is just the beginning:

“”There’s a guy walking around who was blind, but now can see. With that sort of vision, you can have a driver’s licence…. We continue to be encouraged by the progress we see in our ongoing clinical investigations, though the results included in the article were confidential and not intended for publication at that time. Our plan is still to publish additional results from the clinical investigations when we have a significant aggregation of data.”

Human embryonic stem cells have been controversial in the past because culturing them results in the destruction of a fertilized human embryo. Much of the successful stem research has derived from somatic stem cells, also known as adult stem cells. But hESC are fully pluripotent, meaning they can transform to any cell type, while adult stem cells are typically multipotent, meaning they are limited to what type of cells they can differentiate into. But they are various sources of pluripotent adult stem cells, including umbilical cord blood.

What do you think about stem cells restoring vision to the blind using human embryonic stem cells?