London Project to Cure Blindness Q&As

Successful trials of new treatment at Moorfields in fight against sight loss caused by AMD - what could the research mean for you?

In March 2018 the results of a ground-breaking clinical study which described the use of a new stem cell based treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) were published. Read the news story 

The study is a major milestone for the London Project to Cure Blindness, a partnership between Professor Pete Coffey from University College London and Professor Lyndon da Cruz, a retinal surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

What is the London Project to Cure Blindness?

The London Project to Cure Blindness is a partnership between Professor Pete Coffey from University College London and Professor Lyndon da Cruz, retinal surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.  The Project has been also been supported by the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre.

What is this study?

Researchers wanted to see if they could improve vision for people with sudden severe visual loss caused by wet AMD by replacing the diseased cells at the back of the patients’ affected eye using a stem cell-based treatment.

What are the results of this study?

After receiving the treatment, the two patients who took part in the study went from not being able to read at all even with glasses, to reading 60-80 words per minute with normal reading glasses. The results from the study suggest that the treatment is safe and effective. 

How does the procedure work?

The retina is made of many different layers. One of the critical layers, called the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) separates blood vessels from the nerve layer and nourishes the retina. This layer is damaged in patients with AMD.

In this new approach, researchers took a stem cell - which is a single cell – and reproduced it many times, turning them into a perfect copy of the RPE layer that needs to be replaced in patients with AMD. This is then placed onto a patch and inserted under the retina to replace the damaged cells.

Is this available as a treatment?

No. While the results of the study are very exciting, it is not currently available as a method of treatment at Moorfields Eye Hospital or elsewhere. The research is still in its early stages and it may take some years before it could be made available.

Will further trials take place?

The findings support the need for further research into the safety and effectiveness of this as a treatment for wet and dry age-related macular degeneration.

Can I register my interest to take part in future trials?

No. It is not possible to register your interest to take part in future trials due to the strict recruitment criteria. If you’re interested in taking part in other research studies you can speak with your GP, optician or eye doctor next time you’re visiting them.

How are patients selected to take part in research trials at Moorfields?

Patients who attend Moorfields will be contacted if they fit the strict criteria for research studies. Speak with your eye doctor next time you’re visiting for more information.

Where can I get more information about age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?

For more information about AMD, visit NHS Choices. If you or a family member have been diagnosed with AMD, help and support is available from charities including Macular Society and RNIB. They can answer questions and provide information and advice about any aspect of living with AMD. 

How can I support the London Project to Cure Blindness?

Please contact Moorfields Eye Charity to find out how you can donate towards the London Project and our other areas of research.