Cirurgiões em Londres realizaram uma operação pioneira para testar um novo tratamento de um tipo de cegueira usando células-tronco.

A “cobaia” foi uma mulher de 60 anos, portadora de degeneração macular, uma doença ocular degenerativa, em procedimento realizado no Moorfields Eye Hospital. A doença é a principal causa de perda de visão em países desenvolvidos.

No Brasil, cerca de 2,9 milhões de pessoas com mais de 65 anos têm a doença, segundo dados do Conselho Brasileiro de Oftalmologia.

A técnica envolve o uso de uma espécie de “remendo”, feito com células oculares provenientes de doações, implantado na parte posterior da retina.

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A cirurgia faz parte de um projeto criado há uma década para tentar reverter a perda de visão em pacientes com degeneração macular. Dez pacientes com o tipo “úmido” da doença, considerado o mais grave, participarão dos testes.

Todos eles têm expectativa de sofrer perda súbita de visão por conta de defeitos nos vasos sanguíneos localizados nos olhos.

Após a cirurgia, os pacientes serão monitorados por um ano para que se cheque se o tratamento é seguro e se houve melhora de visão.

mulher que se submeteu à cirurgia não quis ser identificada. Segundo o coordenador do projeto, o médico Peter Coffey, do Instituto de Oftalmologia da University College London, o remendo de células parece estável.

“Não poderemos saber antes do Natal se a visão está boa e por quanto tempo pode ser mantida”, explicou Coffey.

As células usadas na terapia são do epitélio pigmentar da retina (EPR), uma camada celular responsável pela “manutenção” dos fotorreceptores na mácula, o ponto do olho em que enxergamos com maior clareza e definição. Em casos de degeneração macular, as células EPR morrem e pacientes perdem sua visão central, que fica distorcida e borrada.

‘Viável’

A equipe trabalhando em Moorfields recebe apoio financeiro da empresa farmacêutica Pfizer.

Não é a primeira vez que cientistas usaram células-tronco em tratamentos de cegueira. Em 2012, pacientes com a doença de Stargardt, que também é marcada pela degeneração da visão, foram injetadas com embriões em experimentos nos EUA e na Grã-Bretanha, que também envolveram uma equipe de Moorfields.

O hospital londrino também tem um programa em que 40 pacientes com degeneração macular receberam tratamento com células tiradas dos próprios olhos.

“Vimos alguns casos impressionantes de recuperação, com algumas pessoas conseguindo voltar a ler e a dirigir. E essa recuperação tem sido sustentada por anos”, explica Da Cruz.

O médico, no entanto, ressalta que o uso de células dos próprios pacientes é complexo e traz riscos, o que explica o fato de o novo estudo usar as células-tronco, que podem produzir um suprimento ilimitado de células.

Estudos em animais mostraram, segundo Da Cruz, que o uso dos “remendos” é viável. Mas até que conheçam os primeiros resultados dos testes em humanos, seu funcionamento em humanos permanece uma incógnita.

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