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AstraZeneca, University to Collaborate on Stem Cell Therapies

Human Eye (KyleMay/Flickr)AstraZeneca, a global pharmaceutical company, and University College London (UCL) today agreed to develop regenerative medicines for diabetic retinopathy (DR), enabled by stem cell research.

Under the three-year agreement, AstraZeneca and scientists at the UCL’s Institute of Ophthalmology will collaborate to identify new therapeutic tools that take advantage of the regenerative capacity of stem cells. Marcus Fruttiger of UCL who is leading the project says in the announcement of the agreement, “These tools could be used either to manufacture transplantable material or to directly stimulate new cell growth in the eye to help restore or improve the vision of those with DR.”

The announcement notes that DR is now the most common cause of vision impairment among people of working age in Western society. The majority of patients with type 1 diabetes will develop retinopathy and about 20–30% will become blind. Also, a large number of patients with type 2 diabetes will develop retinopathy as their underlying disease progresses. With the global epidemic of type 2 diabetes, this predicament is set to worsen as over 438 million people are projected to suffer from diabetes and its complications by 2030.

Related: Study Shows Vision Restored with Biosynthetic Corneas, 25 August 2010

Photo: Kyle May/Flickr

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