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About us.Vision is our most precious sense. Most surveys of people around the world agree that this is the sense people fear losing the most. The London Project to Cure Blindness is a collaboration between Professor Pete Coffey from University College London and Professor Lyndon da Cruz a retinal Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital. The project aims to bring stem cell therapy for retinal diseases, especially for Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), to the clinic as rapidly as possible. We believe stem cell based therapies for these conditions have the greatest chances of preventing blindness, restoring sight and improving sufferers’ quality of life in the future.
The stem cell approach aims to replace cells in the eye that are either damaged or missing. In AMD the main cell that is initially affected is the retinal pigment epithelium cells (RPE). In the first of the trials developed by the London Project we are using human embryonic stem cells (hES) that have been transformed into RPE cells. These RPE cells will then be transplanted under the patient's retina on a specially engineered patch that the London Project has developed.
More recently The London Project has secured funding to examine the use of induced pluripotent Stem cell (iPSC) technology for transplantation. This allows the original cells to be taken from the person with the disease themselves and not from another source such as an embryo. Another important arm of the project is to develop the technology by which stem cells can be transformed into photoreceptors (primarily cones and rods) and transplanted into patients. It is believed that the photoreceptors are lost after the RPE have degenerated. This first trial, which has been granted permission by the UK regulatory authority, will be for severe wet degeneration and if successful will then be also used in dry macular degeneration.
With the funds raised to date, the London Project to Cure Blindness team is moving towards developing a cure for the largest cause of blindness in the developed world. This is made possible by the 'world class' research carried out at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Moorfields Eye Hospital and University of Sheffield.