Umbilical Cord Stem Cells and AMD

Umbilical Cord Stem Cells and AMD

Posted on Jun.03, 2013, by , under Educational, Eye Health, Guest Blogger, Low Vision Info, Low Vision Tips

The topic of using stem cells for treating medical conditions can generate strong feelings of support and/or serious ethical concerns. In the most simple terms there are basically two categories of stem cells – embryonic and adult. While the use of some, but not all, embryonic stem cells results in the death of the embryo, umbilical cord stem cells are considered adult stem cells and come from tissue that in the past was simply tossed away – the umbilical cord and the placenta. However, that is quickly changing.

According to the author of The Stem Cell Dilemma, Dr. Leo Furcht, “It is thought by some medical scientists that umbilical cord blood harbors adult stem cells that have many, if not all, of the important attributes of embryonic stem cells.” Even now stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood are being used in clinical trials to treat cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, autism, pediatric stroke and juvenile diabetes. As a result of many positive outcomes, cord blood banking is now becoming more prevalent and common.

Cord Blood Banking

An expectant couple can opt to harvest and store their child’s cord blood for their own purposes in the event that their child develops a future condition or experiences a trauma that requires its use. The couple is required to pay for the harvesting and storage costs. Or the couple can donate the cord blood to a public cord blood bank at no cost to themselves.

Stem Cell Sources

Transplanted stem cells can come from 4 different sources – embryos, umbilical cord blood, the bone marrow or circulating blood. When a child receives and uses his/her own cord blood stem cells it is called an autologous transplant. Transplanted stem cells that come from a donated source are called an allogeneic transplant.

So what do umbilical cord stem cells have to do with macular degeneration? There is currently a clinical trial that is transplanting umbilical cord stem cells into the retina of those who have an advanced form of macular degeneration, called geographic atrophy. It is a Phase I study which means it is looking at the safety. The name of the study is A Safety Study of CNTO 2476 in Patients with Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Eligible patients will receive a one-time sub-retinal administration of Human Umbilical Tissue Derived- Cells (CNTO 2476) using a micro-catheter. The sponsor is Janssen Research & Development, LLC. To find out more about this study and where it is being conducted go to:

Macular Degeneration Clinical Trials

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN