Tag Archives: cornea

Researchers Use Stem Cells From Patients’ Own Eyes to Restore Sight

Click link for complete article from ABCNews

Pioneering stem cell treatment restores sight

By Richard Alleyne, Telegraph.co.uk

Russell Turnbull, 38, lost most of the vision in his right eye when he had ammonia sprayed into it as he tried to break up a fight on a late night bus journey home.

The attack, which badly burned and scarred his cornea, left him with permanent blurred sight and pain whenever he blinked.

Now however his sight has been almost fully restored thanks to a new technique where doctors regrow the outside membrane of his cornea from stem cells taken from his healthy eye.

The new operation involves cutting away a millimetre squared section of his left eye complete with stem cells and growing it to 400 times that size in the laboratory.

The new outer skin of the eye is then stitched onto the badly damaged cornea in place of the damaged membrane.

The technique, developed by scientists and eye surgeons at the North East England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI). has been used on eight patients and for most of them including Mr Turnbull it has almost completely restored their vision.

Dr Francisco Figueiredo, Consultant Eye Surgeon at NESCI team, who co-led the project, said: “Corneal cloudiness has been estimated to cause blindness in eight million people worldwide each year.

“The stem cell treatment option is aimed at total cure rather than symptom relief only. This new treatment will alleviate patient suffering and remove the need for long term multiple medications as well as returning the patient to functional and social independence.”

Dr Sajjad Ahmad, who developed the Newcastle method for culturing limbal stem cells, said “This study shows that stem cell research conducted in the laboratory can have a major impact on the quality of life of patients with corneal disease. This work has been a team effort involving stem cell researchers and hospital doctors working together effectively.”

A larger study involving 24 new patients is currently underway with funding from the UK’s Medical Research Council.

Mr Turnbull, a storeman, said: “The operation was a complete success and I now have my sight back. This really has given me my life back.”

Details of the treatment have been published in the American journal, Stem Cells.

Contact lens stem cell sight aid

From BBC.co.uk

Scientists have used stem cells grown onto contact lenses to improve the sight of people with cornea damage.

The treatment was given to three patients by a team from Australia’s University of New South Wales. All saw improvements within weeks.

They used the patients’ own stem cells in the treatment, detailed in the journal Transplantation, and a type of lens already used after eye surgery.

UK experts said the small-scale study was promising.

The cornea is the transparent layer that covers the eye – but it can lose transparency, damaging sight.

In the most serious cases, people can need cornea grafts or transplants.

Corneal disease can be caused by genetic disorders, surgery, burns, infections or chemotherapy.

In this study, all three patients had damage to the epithelium – the layer of cells covering the front of the cornea.

Eye cells
The researchers in this study used limbal stem cells – found within the eye.

Stem cells are “master cells”, which have the power to transform themselves into other cell types.

The cells can be taken from any healthy part of the eye and, because they are from the patient’s own body, the transplant will not be rejected.

They removed small samples of stem cells from the eyes of the three patients – two men and a woman – and grew them on contact lenses.

The patients then wore the lenses for 10 days.

During that period, the stem cells moved off the lenses and onto the damaged corneas.

The patients were followed up for between eight and 13 months.

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Stem Cell Therapy Makes Cloudy Corneas Clear, According to Pitt Researchers

From UPMC.com

Stem cells collected from human corneas restore transparency and don’t trigger a rejection response when injected into eyes that are scarred and hazy, according to experiments conducted in mice by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Their study will be published in the journal Stem Cells and appears online today.

The findings suggest that cell-based therapies might be an effective way to treat human corneal blindness and vision impairment due to the scarring that occurs after infection, trauma and other common eye problems, said senior investigator James L. Funderburgh, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Ophthalmology. The Pitt corneal stem cells were able to remodel scar-like tissue back to normal.

“Our experiments indicate that after stem cell treatment, mouse eyes that initially had corneal defects looked no different than mouse eyes that had never been damaged,” Dr. Funderburgh said.

The ability to grow millions of the cells in the lab could make it possible to create an off-the-shelf product, which would be especially useful in countries that have limited medical and surgical resources but a great burden of eye disease due to infections and trauma.

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