Scientists are using stem cells to support and restore the light-sensing cells in the eye that degenerate and die in retinitis pigmentosa (RP). These fresh cells can be implanted into the back of the eye to see if this will help slow the vision loss caused by RP.
In leukemia, there is a population of cells, known as leukemia stem cells, that are resistant to treatment that works on other leukemia cells. Scientists are investigating the use of drugs that can specifically identify and then kill these leukemia stem cells. In essence, this type of therapy might not be classified as a stem cell therapy, but rather a therapy that treats a disease caused by stem cells.
Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), or “Bubble Boy Disease,” is caused by a genetic mutation that severely weakens the immune system. Stem cell approaches involve removing the blood-forming stem cells that eventually become immune cells, then modifying them so that they do not have the mutation. These blood-forming stem cells can then be transplanted back into the patient to make normal immune cells.