Retinal stem cell transplantation: Balancing safety and potential.
Singh MS., Park SS., Albini TA., Canto-Soler MV., Klassen H., MacLaren RE., Takahashi M., Nagiel A., Schwartz SD., Bharti K.
Stem cell transplantation holds great promise as a potential treatment for currently incurable retinal degenerative diseases that cause poor vision and blindness. Recently, safety data have emerged from several Phase I/II clinical trials of retinal stem cell transplantation. These clinical trials, usually run in partnership with academic institutions, are based on sound preclinical studies and are focused on patient safety. However, reports of serious adverse events arising from cell therapy in other poorly regulated centers have now emerged in the lay and scientific press. While progress in stem cell research for blindness has been greeted with great enthusiasm by patients, scientists, doctors and industry alike, these adverse events have raised concerns about the safety of retinal stem cell transplantation and whether patients are truly protected from undue harm. The aim of this review is to summarize and appraise the safety of human retinal stem cell transplantation in the context of its potential to be developed into an effective treatment for retinal degenerative diseases.