Taubman Emerging Scholar Rajesh Rao, MD, is leading a new clinical trial of a stem cell treatment for patients with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Eighteen patients in the trial will receive as many as 250,000 specially engineered cells derived from adult retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. The experimental cells are injected under the macula, a portion of the retina inside the eye.
The trial is taking place in collaboration with researchers at New Jersey-based Luxa Biotechnology.
Dr. Rao is a physician-researcher at U-M’s Kellogg Eye Center and the Leonard G. Miller Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.
“This trial is a lifelong dream for me, as I have been involved in stem cell research, or advocacy for it, since age 17,” said Dr. Rao. “Our biggest hope is that this offers patients with advanced dry AMD a safe treatment that improves vision. Time will tell. Until then, I can’t think of a better place to do this clinical trial than at the University of Michigan.”
Details about the stem cells that were used can be found here.