Texas Retina Associates’ Rand Spencer, MD, is working with the Retina Foundation of the Southwest (RFSW) on a groundbreaking new clinical trial for age-related macular degeneration involving adult human neural (brain) stem cells. They treated the first-ever patient in the world with this novel approach on Wednesday, October 3, 2012.
What is AMD?
AMD is a leading cause of blindness in the United States, affecting approximately 1.75 million Americans age 40 and older. It is a degenerative retinal disease that typically strikes adults in their 50s or early 60s, and progresses painlessly. It has two forms – wet and dry. In dry AMD, tissue in the part of the eye that is responsible for central vision deteriorates. In some cases, there is bleeding and a build-up of fluid in the eye’s retina. This is called the wet form. Currently, there are no effective treatments for dry AMD, which is the most common form of the disease.
About the Trial
This Phase I/II trial will evaluate the safety and preliminary efficacy of HuCNS-SC cells as a treatment for dry AMD. The trial is an open-label, dose-escalation study, and is expected to enroll a total of 16 patients. The HuCNS-SC cells will be administered by a single injection into the space beneath the retina in the most affected eye. Patients’ vision will be evaluated using both conventional and advanced state-of-the-art methods of ophthalmological assessment. Evaluations will be performed at predetermined intervals over a one-year period to assess safety and signs of visual benefit. Patients will then be followed for an additional four years in a separate observational study.
“Dry AMD is the most common form of the disease, and we currently have no good treatment to offer these patients,” explains Dr. Spencer. “This new approach offers some hope that we can save sight for the millions of people potentially impacted by AMD, especially as our population ages.”
Patients interested in participating in the clinical trial should contact (214) 363-3911.
Texas Retina Associates and RFSW
The Retina Foundation of the Southwest is an independent, non-profit research institute located in Dallas, Texas. The Foundation was established in 1982 and has grown into one of the leading independent vision research centers in the United States, with a staff of 28 dedicated to finding the causes, treatments and potential cures for blinding eye diseases. Patients are referred by ophthalmologists from Dallas and around the U.S. and world. Because the center is funded by philanthropic and federal grants, patient services are entirely free.
Texas Retina Associates has worked in close partnership with the RFSW for many years. In fact, in 2009, Dr. Spencer received the Visionary Award in recognition of his 18 years of service as Chairman of the RFSW Board of Directors. He was one of three individuals in the 34-year history of the Retina Foundation to receive this most esteemed honor. Dr. Spencer no longer serves as chairman but continues to serve on the Retina Foundation as a Board member.
For further information about the Retina Foundation, visit www.retinafoundation.org.