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British scientists have developed the world’s first stem cell therapy to cure the most common cause of blindness: age-related macular degeneration, according to the Sunday Times of London. Surgeons predict it will become a routine, one-hour procedure that will be generally available in six or seven years’ time. The treatment involves replacing a layer of degenerated cells with new ones created from embryonic stem cells. It was pioneered by scientists and surgeons from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London and Moorfields eye hospital. This week Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical research company, will announce its financial backing to bring the therapy to patients. keep reading »
Stem cells may help deaf people hear again, according to early stage research by British scientists. According to Reuters, a team at the University of Sheffield said on Thursday they had discovered how to turn stem cells into ones that behave like sensory hair cells or auditory neurons, which could then be surgically inserted into the ear to restore lost hearing. The approach, which is being tested on animals, is still a long way from being offered to patients. The cells in the ear that detect sound are created only in the womb, which means there is no way to repair them once they have been damaged, resulting in permanent hearing loss. Using stem cells — master cells that produce all the body’s tissues and organs — to generate these cell types in the laboratory could change that dramatically. Doctors hope one day to use stem cells to treat a wide range ... keep reading »

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