The Secret is the Secretions

Stem cells hold great promise, but is it the cells we really need?

By Nicolas Sohl, CEO and co-founder of Cell Care Therapeutics, Los Angeles, California.

March 2018

Ophthalmology is full of advances, but sometimes the field is very conservative. Look at the extended-release drug delivery systems that have made it to market: Vitrasert, Ozurdex, Retisert, Iluvien. New drug delivery technology, but really old drugs (ganciclovir, dexamethasone, and fluocinolone acetonide). I think it’s clear that the use of steroids for the treatment of retinal disease will diminish – their drawbacks and side-effects are well-known, and there’s (hopefully) better therapeutic approaches on the horizon.

Many companies are focusing on cell therapies to treat retinal diseases. They look like an attractive option; they’ve been heralded as being able to “regenerate” or “rebuild” the retina. There are a number of companies that are currently developing and even trialing intravitreal stem cells clinically for retinopathies, in particular for retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt disease and AMD. If they can deliver on their promise, that’s wonderful. But there are aspects of this approach that still need to be resolved.