Fight for Sight

Diabetic retinopathy: addressing sight loss

Diabetes can lead to severe visual impairment - most notably by its impact on the retina. This research will assess the potential for a group of stem cells (known as endothelial progenitor cells - EPCs) to develop a stem cell therapy for diabetic retinopathy.

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It ran from 6:21 PM, 21 June 2011 to 6:21 PM, 21 June 2011

Registered Charity in England and Wales (1111438)

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  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing
  • Medical ResearchMedical Research

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Situation

Nearly 3 million people in the UK are currently diagnosed with diabetes; 220 million people worldwide have diabetes. About 5% of all deaths globally are caused by diabetes and the World Health Organisation estimates that the number of deaths caused by diabetes will double between 2005 and 2030. Diabetic retinopathy (scarring of the retina caused by weakened blood cells) is one of the main consequences of diabetes - over 10% of people with diabetes will experience severe sight loss or blindness.

Solution

Evidence suggests that EPCs can be isolated and injected into patients to assist blood vessel repair. Unfortunately, the regenerative potential of EPCs in diabetic patients is greatly impaired. This research will assess EPCs in the context of diabetes and concentrate on a specific EPC-type that is widely used clinically - although not, so far, in the retina. It will have important impact by providing basic information on how to develop a novel stem cell treatment for diabetic retinopathy.