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Scripps Research awarded $17 million for adult stem cell use to treat eye diseases

essels that would otherwise degenerate in the eye, adult stem cells can also rescue nerve cells is the surrounding tissue.

"Scientists are recognizing that blood vessels arent simply conduits to deliver oxygen and remove metabolic waste products," notes Friedlander. "In addition, blood vessels produce molecules and actions which have profound paracrine effects on the neighboring tissue."

This rescue effect opens the door to using adult stem cell therapy to treat additional types of visual disorders. These could include degenerative diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, a progressive eye disease affecting the rods and cones in the retina, and age-related macular degeneration, a condition that gradually destroys sharp, central vision and is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans age 60 and older. Glaucoma, in which increased intraocular pressure can lead to loss of neurons and eventually to blindness, may also be amenable to treatment with these stem cells.

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While initial results have been promising, much work remains to be done before the adult stem cell therapy is ready to test in humans-and thats where the new NEI grant comes in.

One critical detail the team will be working out is the development of procedures for extracting cells from a patient, purifying them, and putting them back into the eye. Such procedures must meet the strict quality control guidelines set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration generally known as "good laboratory practices" or GLP. Developing practices that meet these standards is a task Friedlander calls "a real engineering challenge."

The team will also address the issues of expanding the adult stem cell therapy to larger eyes, determining appropriate dosage and verifying that the adult stem cells will diffuse over a larger area. In addition, the team will define and characterize the pharmacokinetic, toxicological, and pharmacological properties of the
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Contact: Keith McKeown
kmckeown@scripps.edu
858-784-8134
Scripps Research Institute
30-May-2007


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