The announcement of a clinical trial of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) in Japan (1) has somewhat of a personal aspect for me. I have recently been having some retinal problems consequent to a mishandled cataract operation. This has made me very aware both of how important and how delicate our visual systems are. The Japanese trial will use iPS cells in patients suffering from age related macular degeneration, a common but difficult to treat eye disease. Since the retinal cells to be implanted will derive from the patient's own cells via the iPS approach, hopefully there will be no immune rejection.
As an older person I cheer the push toward stem cell therapies. It will probably come too late for my generation, but hopefully a combination of stem cell and genetic technologies will eventually be able to attenuate many debilities that accrue with age.