Monday, January 23, 2012

she can see again

Two women losing their sight to progressive forms of blindness may have regained some vision while participating in an experiment testing a treatment made from human embryonic stem cells, researchers reported today.
The report marks the first time that scientists have produced direct evidence that human embryonic stem cells may have helped a patient. The cells had only previously been tested in the laboratory or in animals.
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 Scientists discovered human embryonic stem cells in 1998. Many researchers believe they could revolutionize medicine because they can morph into virtually any type of cell in the body. That means they could potentially provide cells to treat many diseases, including diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and spinal cord injuries.
But they field has been the focus of intense debate and controversy because human embryos are often destroyed to obtain the cells. Critics consider any research on human embryos, and especially the destruction of human embryos, to be immoral.

In July, Schwartz and his colleagues injected about 50,000 RPE cells made from stem cells into the right eye of Sue Freeman, 78, of Laguna Beach, Calif., who had lost most of her vision to macular degeneration.
Because of the disease, she could no longer recognize faces, read, cook or even go outside on her own. But within six weeks of the procedure, Freeman started to notice she could see landscapes better. Tests showed she could read more letters on an eye chart. Soon, she was making her own breakfast again and even has gone shopping alone.
"One day, I looked down and I could see my watch," she said. "I probably hadn't seen it in about a year and a half or two. And I could see. So that was exciting for me. And I remember saying, 'Oh my goodness. I can see my watch. I can actually tell time.' "

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