The Central Executive Board of the Turkish Ophthalmology Association (TOD) made warnings about stem cell treatments for eyes that are still in the experimental stage.
TOD emphasized that the issue has come to the fore in retinal diseases known as 'yellow spot disease' or 'chicken black', but the methods are still in the research phase. The association management pointed out that treatments that are not approved by the Ministry of Health can be dangerous.
There are various retinal diseases that do not benefit from current treatment methods and can cause permanent vision loss, namely blindness. One of the leading untreatable retinal diseases is 'dry type age-related macular degeneration', known as yellow spot disease, which usually occurs after the age of 50. In addition, there is no effective treatment of hereditary macular diseases today. The most common are retinitis pigmentosa and Stargardt's disease, known as chicken black or night blindness. Best disease, Leber congenital amarosis is also among the untreated inherited retinal diseases.
In the early stage
The Central Executive Board (TOD MYK) of the Turkish Ophthalmology Association, representing Turkish ophthalmologists, shared that there are experimental and early-stage clinical studies for the treatment of these diseases and that stem cell therapy is one of the new methods whose effectiveness is investigated.
TOD said, “Although good results have been obtained in research on stem cell therapy, the studies have not been completed yet. Therefore, today stem cell therapy in retinal diseases is not among the routine clinical applications, ”he warned.
The Turkish Ophthalmology Association continued to inform the public as follows:
Unauthorized treatments can be dangerous
Treatments applied must be approved by the Ministry of Health and the Ethics Committee. So far, there are some pioneering stem cell researches approved by health authorities in our country and around the world. However, treatments that are not approved by the Ministry of Health can be ineffective or even dangerous. In the medical literature, cases with significant loss of vision with unapproved stem cell therapies have been published.
Pay attention to promising remarks
In our country, stem cell therapies, Ministry of Health, "Turkey Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (TİTCK) Good Clinical Practice Guidelines" are to be applied under the guidance of clinical research. Legislation on stem cell treatments is regulated by the Ministry of Health 2018/10 circular number 54567092. According to the aforementioned circular, it is forbidden for health institutions to make advertisements and promising statements through communication tools such as television, newspaper and social media. In the future, how and which patients will receive stem cell therapy will be determined by qualified clinical studies to be conducted under the guidance of "Good Clinical Practices Guide".
What is a stem cell?
A stem cell is an immature precursor cell with a complex structure. This cell has the ability to transform into other cells in the body. They can reproduce in the area where they are applied, transform into other types of cells, renew themselves or maintain their own cell communities. They also have the potential to repair this tissue following an injury in the body. Because of this potential, they are thought to be able to replace or repair damaged cells in the retina.