The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) today (September 22) approved the UK’s first ever human embryonic stem cell (hESC) trial. To be led by eye surgeon James Bainbridge of Moorfields Eye Hospital and University College London, the study will involve 12 patients with Stargardt's macular dystrophy, a progressive vision loss disease for which there is currently no treatment. Patients will receive injections of hES-derived retinal pigment epithelial cells into their eyes as part of the trial.
The Massachusetts-based company, Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), received approval for its US trial from the Food and Drug Administration last year, with the first patient receiving treatment this past July. The company also plans to apply for UK approval for a trial to test the therapy on patients with age-related macular degeneration, ACT Chief Scientific Officer Robert Lanza told ScienceInsider, which is also currently in trials in the United States.