A Phase II clinical trial is currently underway to evaluate the efficacy of retinal progenitor cells in treating a retinitis pigmentosa that causes visual impairment and, in severe cases, blindness. In an earlier clinical trial, the stem cells were used to create new photo receptors, with patients reporting improvements in vision. In follow-ups conducted between 18 days and 2 months following treatment, patients were able to read three additional lines in a standard eye test chart.
Dr. Henry Klassen of UC Irvine has initiated an FDA approved stem cell based clinical trial for the treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) through the regeneration of damaged retinal tissue. RP is caused by the slow decay of photoreceptors in the retina, which provide vital chemical communication to the brain. The disease is thought to derive from mutations in genes responsible for rods and cones, which ultimately lead to blindness. There is no current treatment for RP.