Hope for a cure for retinitis pigmentosa
Retinitis pigmentosa is an incurable disease, but that may change thanks to a cell patch that was developed and implanted in two patients in 2019.
In her report, published in the Spanish magazine Le Figaro, writer Margot Brunat said that about thirty thousand people are currently living in France with retinitis pigmentosa, a group of rare genetic diseases that lead to gradual loss of vision.
This condition can begin at any age, and is most often diagnosed between 10 and 30 years old. Currently, there is no cure available for this disease, but research is developing.
Crystal Monville and her team were able to develop a "cell patch" for patients with a specific form of retinitis pigmentosa. This was considered a precedent, as the researcher explained that it is "intended for patients whose mutations lead to abnormalities in the epithelial tissue cells, which represents about 5% of cases of this disease."
Oyza, a 55-year-old woman with poor eyesight since birth, received her first plaster implantation on September 5, 2019.
The patch is made of retinal epithelial cells made from embryonic stem cells. The researcher also explained that it "replaces the destroyed epithelium" by injection, and its content is diffused into the eye.
The patch does not repair the destroyed photoreceptors, but it stops the progression of the disease, and after a month passed for Oisa, her brother - who also had this disease - was the second patient who had the transplant.
And the researcher quoted that "both of them confirm that they look at the light a little better since the transplant, but they are basically able to withstand the patch, and there are no complications."
The author stated that 12 patients will be included in this clinical trial. If the results are conclusive, this patch may become a treatment for some forms of retinitis pigmentosa.
In this context, the researcher added that "the epithelial cells are the same cells that are damaged in macular degeneration." This opens an interesting horizon for the 1.5 million interested people.