Eye Affected By AMDAge-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease linked with aging that may eventually obliterate sharp, central vision.

Professor Coffey, of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and the UCL Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, will be the UK head of a £2.4 million study dealing with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Professor Mark Humayun at the University of Southern California will be the chief of the study in the US.

The initiative apparently adds impetus to the growth of stem cell treatments that may finally be used in the clinic. The first program to surface from this venture would be anticipated to commence Phase I clinical trials in four years.

Professor Coffey commented, “Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of irreversible vision-loss, and it is estimated that over 710,000 people in the UK will suffer from AMD with severe vision impairment by 2020. The stem cell route we have proposed offers an opportunity for more successful results based on a single surgical treatment and hopefully a mechanism for preserving an individual’s eyesight.”

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council, stated, “The partnerships that have been established between the UK and CIRM have brought us closer to delivering the promise of stem cell treatments for debilitating conditions. We hope these projects will accelerate treatments to early clinical trials, eventually leading to a direct benefit for people suffering from age-related macular degeneration, which up until now has been regarded as incurable and also acute myeloid leukaemia.”

He further added that the MRC has headed the approach for UK translational experts and together with their partners at CIRM they look forward to realize the full potential of stem cell research.