Ashok Chakravarti remembers the moment he went blind.
It was on February 18, 2002. He was at work, at a chemical plant, when a pipe carrying sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) started to leak.
“I was fixing the leak when the chemical splashed into my eyes,” he says. The accident damaged the outermost layer of his eyes, the cornea.
Chakravarti is among thousands of Indians who lose their sight in chemical accidents each year.
Today, some of those people can see again, thanks to scientists at the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, in Hyderabad.
The institute is treating patients with stem cells – not the controversial
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Dozens of people who were blinded or otherwise suffered severe eye damage when they were splashed with caustic chemicals had their sight restored with transplants of their own stem cells — a stunning success for the burgeoning cell-therapy field, Italian researchers reported Wednesday.
The treatment worked completely in 82 of 107 eyes and partially in 14 others, with benefits lasting up to a decade so far. One man whose eyes were severely damaged more than 60 years ago now has near-normal vision.
“This is a roaring success,” said ophthalmologist Dr. Ivan Schwab of the University of California, Davis, who
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Patients suffering from blindness now need not wait for donors as doctors have found a way to treat many with the stem cells derived from the cornea of a dead body.
Doctors at the AIIMS and a private clinic in the national capital are using corneal surface stem cells from a cadaver’s (dead person) eye for curing corneal injuries in many.
“We have used the corneal surface stem cells of cadaver’s eye for patients with corneal injury and have been able to correct many vision,” Dr Radhika Tandon, Associate Professor, Department of Opthalmology, AIIMS said, adding “this has been
Cultured stem cells from eyes helped improve the sight of eight patients with Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency, a painful, blinding disease, British doctors said.
The patients’ own corneal cells were cultured and used to reduce corneal cloudiness from the disease, The North East England Stem Cell Institute, Newcastle, England, reported in a release Thursday.
Image by richardmasoner via Flickr
Scientists genetically “reprogrammed” human skin cells to possess the same properties as those that make up the retina.
The process involved first turning them into pluripotent stem (IPS) cells, which have the potential to develop into virtually every kind of tissue in the body.
By exposing the IPS cells to a specific cocktail of chemicals, the scientists then caused them to grow into partially developed retina cells – the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye which transmit nerve signals to the brain.
Although the work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is