LONDON, April 19 (UPI) -- British scientists say they have developed a stem procedure that will reverse the most common cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration.
The procedure, pioneered by the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London and Moorfields eye hospital, involves replacing a layer of degenerated eye cells with new ones obtained from embryonic stem cells, The Sunday Times of London reported.
The newspaper said pharmaceutical research company Pfizer this week will announce financial backing to bring the therapy to patients.
"This is a huge step forward for patients," Tom Bremridge, chief executive of the Macular Disease Society, told The Sunday Times. "We are extremely pleased that the big guns have become involved, because, once this treatment is validated, it will be made available to a huge volume of patients."
More than 500,000 Britons are affected by age-related macular degeneration and that number will increase significantly as people live longer, observers say.