The field of stem cell biology has rapidly evolved in the last few decades. In the area of regenerative medicine, clinical applications using stem cells hold the potential to be a powerful tool in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases, in particular, disorders of the eye. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are promising technologies that can potentially provide an unlimited source of cells for cell replacement therapy in the treatment of retinal degenerative disorders such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Stargardt disease, and other disorders. ESCs and iPSCs have been used to generate retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells and their functional behavior has been tested in vitro and in vivo in animal models. Additionally, iPSC-derived RPE cells provide an autologous source of cells for therapeutic use, as well as allow for novel approaches in disease modeling and drug development platforms. Clinical trials are currently testing the safety and efficacy of these cells in patients with AMD. In this review, the current status of iPSC disease modeling of AMD is discussed, as well as the challenges and potential of this technology as a viable option for cell replacement therapy in retinal degeneration.
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