Blindness Cure Possible in 6 to 7 Years

It's a sight for sore eyes.

Stem cell therapy to cure blindness is being developed by  British scientists, and surgeons believe it could become a simple procedure that will be available in six or seven years' time, the London Times reported.

The process involves replacing a layer of dying cells with fresh ones created from embryonic stem cells.

It targets age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the most  common causes of blindness, which involves the loss of eye cells.

"This is a huge step forward for patients," Tom Bremridge, chief executive of the Macular Disease Society, told the Times. "We are extremely pleased that the big guns have become involved, because, once this treatment is validated, it will be made available to a huge volume of patients."

Embryonic stem cells have the ability to develop into all types of body tissue.

Their use is controversial, however, because it involves the destruction of human embryos.

Lab tests done by the British team have shown that stem cells can prevent blindness in rats, and similar elements work on pigs.

A clinical trial is expected within two years.

It will most likely be the second in the world to use embryonic stem cells on humans. The first, spinal cord injury sufferers, will start later this year in the United States.

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