Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine


Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treated with Autologous TelomerasePositive Totipotent Stem Cells

Henry E. Young, Mark O. Speight.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an insidious disease characterized by gradual worsening of symptoms, which in time results in a loss of visual acuity in the central area of vision. Macular degeneration does not result in complete blindness, because peripheral vision remains. However, loss of central vision can make it difficult to perform daily activities, such as reading, driving, recognizing faces, etc. There are two forms of macular degeneration, wet and dry. Wet macular degeneration occurs in about 20% of the cases and can be treated pharmacologically. Dry macular degeneration occurs in about 80% of all cases. It has no known treatment or cure. Currently, the Holy Grail for regenerative medicine for diseases and/or disorders with no known cure involves the use of stem cells. Three types of stem cells have been proposed to treat individuals with macular degeneration, e.g., mesenchymal stem cells, embryonic stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells. We propose a fourth possibility; endogenous adult-derived telomerase-positive totipotent stem cells (TSCs). Autologous TSCs were used to treat four individuals with macular degeneration that had lost their central visual acuity. Two subjects had their central visual acuity restored. The third had serious heart comorbidity and the TSCs treated their body instead, and the fourth individual was non-ompliant. The results demonstrated both safety and efficacy (50%) for treating macular degeneration with TSCs.

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