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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Stem cells: a new paradigm for disease modeling and developing therapies for age-related macular degeneration

Heather Melville1, Matthew Carpiniello1, Kia Hollis1, Andrew Staffaroni1 and Nady Golestaneh1234*

Author Affiliations

1 Georgetown University School of Medicine, 3900 Reservoir Rd, Washington, DC 20057, USA

2 Department of Ophthalmology, Georgetown University, School of Medicine, 3900 Reservoir Rd, Washington, DC 20057, USA

3 Department of Neurology, Georgetown University, School of Medicine, 3900 Reservoir Rd, Washington, DC 20057, USA

4 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology, Georgetown University, School of Medicine, 3900 Reservoir Rd, Washington, DC 20057, USA

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Journal of Translational Medicine 2013, 11:53  doi:10.1186/1479-5876-11-53

Published: 1 March 2013

Abstract

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 55 in the U.S. and the developed world. This condition leads to the progressive impairment of central visual acuity. There are significant limitations in the understanding of disease progression in AMD as well as a lack of effective methods of treatment. Lately, there has been considerable enthusiasm for application of stem cell biology for both disease modeling and therapeutic application. Human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have been used in cell culture assays and in vivo animal models. Recently a clinical trial was approved by FDA to investigate the safety and efficacy of the human embryonic stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) transplantation in sub-retinal space of patients with dry AMD These studies suggest that stem cell research may provide both insight regarding disease development and progression, as well as direction for therapeutic innovation for the millions of patients afflicted with AMD.

Keywords:
Age-related macular degeneration; RPE; Stem cells