Progress Made in Treating Stargardt’s and Dry AMD Using Embryonic Stem Cells

January 12, 2012

Advanced Cell Technology today announced updated information on their three clinical trials underway to treat Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy (at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute and at Moorfield’s Eye  Hospital) and to treat the dry form of AMD also at Jules Stein.

The first two patients have received embryonic stem cell derived retinal pigment epithelial cells (hESC-derived RPE) and  the company has been authorized to treat the next two patients in the UCLA study, while the first patient will be treated in the UK study in the upcoming week(s), while additional patients will be treated at UCLA in the same time frame.

To read more about these groundbreaking studies please follow this link.




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10 Responses to “Progress Made in Treating Stargardt’s and Dry AMD Using Embryonic Stem Cells”

  • Julie

    I am 39 years old and was diagnosed with the late onset variation of Stargardt’s about three years ago. I have intact central vision to date but by the looks of my retinas I am very concerned about my future. I am hopeful that these trials are successful and that this provides hope for those of us with uncertain futures.

  • Londiwe, I am not aware of any clinical trials for Stargardt’s disease occurring in South Africa. The stem cell trials that I follow are in the U.S., UK, and in S. Korea. Also, a clinical trial using gene therapy in the U.S. and in Paris, France.

    If you would like more information about any of these trials, please send me an email at iarons(at) and I will send you the information.

  • Londiwe

    I have a brother who is 22yrs old who is suffering from Stargardt disease. He has just finished his studies in becoming a mechanical engineer, now he can’t work and he can’t get a drivers license. I would really appreciate to hear if is there any updates with regards to the Stem Cell? Is this project also implemented in South Africa? Is there any hope for him to get some sort of treatment?

  • Dr. Ramirez-Torres,

    Send me an email and I’ll be happy to send you a copy of the table with live links back to the clinical trials.

    As I mentioned in the article, the first patients were treated last July and the second patients will get stem cells either this week or next. So, it is very early in the trials.

    I’ve also just learned that trials for dry AMD will start shortly at Wills Eye Hospital in Philly. (And I’ve asked the company (ATC) if they will perform trials on Stargardt’s at that facility as well — I think they will as soon as they get their ducks in order.)

    Irv Arons

  • Ari, you’re welcome. I agree, the legitimate trials need to be emphasized so that people can understand that these trials are underway and, hopefully, someday, a treatment protocol will become standard of care.

    By the way, as you are aware, I have a similar table of gene therapy trials. Hopefully, Josh will see fit to publish it soon!


  • ari

    irv- thanks for this info. so many are so desperate, and it’s crucial that people be referred to legitimate centers, considering how many scandalous snake oil operations there are out there, separating desperate people from their money.

  • Efrain Ramirez-Torres MD

    I have a 19-year-old daughter with Stargardt’s Disease — obviously, I would like to know the progress of such trials.

  • Anyone interested in learning more about the trials underway — and yes, as Ari said, these are safety trials, can request a copy of my table of all stem cell clinical trials in ophthalmology. There are currently nine trials either underway or about to start, with a tenth trial (for dry AMD) to begin shortly at Moorfields in London.

    Send me an email at iarons(at) and I’ll be happy to send you a pdf file with active links back to the government-approved clinical trials. Be sure to indicate that you want the Stem Cell Trials by Applications table.

    The NCT links give much more information about each of the FDA-approved trials, while the Japanese and China documents do the same for the trials in those countries.

  • ari

    this is the first “baby steps” of an untested treatment- we treat a few patients who are usually beyond hope, just to see if its safe and “doable”. then, as you suggest, we conduct larger trials. as i have noted many times in this blog, we are many, many years from useful data that can be used widely. judging from the many comments i see in this blog, people are way out of line in their expectations. personally, it looks like effective stem cell treatment is at least 25 years away. the great promise we see in rats and laboratory have been very, very difficult to translate into effective treatment in humans.

  • Helga

    Not enough information given to truly understand what is involved in the research, and only two patients approved for research sounds unreal. Do not believe only two patients are “allowed”. Seems to be a true clinical trial whose results can be substantial, the trial propulaton would have to more than two.