UCI's Dr. Henry Klassen says the early-stage clinical trial results are encouraging. Steve Zylius / UCI

Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center researchers have reported that a therapy they created to cure retinitis pigmentosa is safe and well-tolerated, with no immunological issues, by the first group of patients enrolled in an ongoing phase I/II clinical trial. Led by the regenerative medicine company jCyte, the trial has successfully undergone four reviews by the Food & Drug Administration’s data and safety monitoring board. The first participant in the study, which involved injecting human retinal progenitor cells into one eye, has now been followed clinically for one year post-treatment. Six- to 12-month safety results from this patient and the eight that followed are encouraging, said Dr. Henry Klassen, an associate professor of ophthalmology at UCI and a jCyte co-founder. The cell-based approach is intended to rescue sick and dying retinal photoreceptor cells (rods, cones) in a diseased retina. The trial is being conducted at UCI’s Gavin Herbert Eye Institute and at Retina-Vitreous Associates in Los Angeles. Further clinical studies are being planned.