The latest headline reads:
"Once they were blind, now they see. Patient's cured by stem cell 'miracle'"
This article was dated 24th January 2012 and posted on The Independent website (link below).
Are we not getting a little ahead of ourselves?
The article refers to the Advanced Cell Technology stem cell trials and their latest findings. As previously mentioned, they have treated two patients, one with Stargardt's, with RPE embryonic stem cells. This trial is purely for safety, and is not measuring the effectiveness of embryonic stem cells in the treatment of the diseases.
It is very exciting that of the two patients, so far they have not experienced any adverse effects - tumours or reactions. From what I have read it has been 4 months since the patients received the cells and they are doing well, that is to say are not doing badly.
Because the ACT trial is proving to be safe, another 2 Stargardt's patients will receive the stem cells, one in the US and one in the UK. This is great news for stem cell research.
The patients that have been treated have also stated improvement in their vision. ACT are not focusing on the visual improvement in this stage of trials and there is a link below to the published report.
So I am putting my skepticism hat on again and I am angry that the media can claim that this is a 'miracle' and 'the blind can see again.' These trials are for SAFETY and are not measuring whether stem cell treatment actually works! To say that the blind are cured is getting just a little too ahead of what is actually going on. ACT have stressed that these trials are safety trials and the media should pass the information to the public, instead of giving false hope to people like me with Stargardt's.
There is still a long way to go with stem cells. I will continue to wait in anticipation.
Below are links to recent articles about the ACT trial.
Advanced Cell Technology
Australian Ageing Agenda