• Cell Therapies for Atrophic AMD

    At Friday’s Retina Subspecialty Day, Allen C. Ho, MD, provided an overview of research into cell-based therapies for the treatment of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). “Cell therapy continues to move forward for atrophic AMD—someday soon, we may become the new microtransplant surgeons,” Dr. Ho said. Speaking during the “Gene- and Cell-Based Therapy Session” (Ret07V), he highlighted the following:

    Stem cells. Fortunately, the FDA has tightened regulation of for-profit “stem cell clinics,” Dr. Ho said. These clinics have been linked to blinding complications.

    Legitimate clinical trials are continuing with the use of human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell lines. To date, these cell lines have been well tolerated, Dr. Ho said.

    Surgical refinements. Current refinements include those in surgical delivery and surgical instrumentation. For instance, cell therapies can be delivered by transvitreal injection or a transvitreal scaffolding procedure that involves a patch; suprachoroidal delivery is also being used.

    Novel instrumentation includes the minimally invasive Orbit subretinal delivery system (Orbit SDS; Gyroscope Therapeutics). In addition, the California Project to Cure Blindness-RPE1 team has developed a custom retractable forceps instrument, which is designed to protect their ultrathin RPE cell implant from being damaged during delivery. 

    Early positive signs on function and structure. Early results to date indicate positive outcomes both in terms of improved visual acuity and retinal regeneration, Dr. Ho said. There’s room for cautious optimism, he concluded. —Jean Shaw

    Watch the Retina Subspecialty Day. If you are registered for AAO 2020 Virtual, you have access to the archived presentations on the virtual meeting platform until Feb. 15, 2021. Log in to the virtual meeting platform: Next, from the Lobby screen, select “Sessions” from the top navigation; click “Agenda” from the drop-down menu; and click on the “Friday” tab.  

    Financial disclosures. Dr. Ho: Adverum: C; Aerpio: C,S; AGTC: C,S; Alcon: C,S; Aldeyra: C,S; Allergan: C,S; Apellis: S; Asclepix: C; Beaver-Visitec: C; BioTime: C,S; Chengdu Kanghong Biotechnology: C,S; Covalent Medical: O; Genentech: C,S; Gemini: S; Graybug: C,S; Gyroscope: C,S; Iridex: C,S; Johnson & Johnson: C,S; Lineage/BioTime: C; Lumithera: S; National Eye Institute: S; Notal; C; Novartis: S; Ocular Therapeutics: C; ONL: C,O; Optovue: C,S; PanOptica: C,O; ProQR: S; Regeneron: C,S; Regenexbio: C,S; Sanofi: S.

    Disclosure key. C = Consultant/Advisor; E = Employee; L = Speakers bureau; O = Equity owner; P = Patents/Royalty; S = Grant support.

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