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
After much hope and controversy, for the first time stem cells have proven to have the ability to cure blindness.
The news comes from a study on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) of the retina, the most common cause of blindness in individuals over the age of 50.
The Sunday Times reports that the treatment was developed by a group of British researchers, who say that in the next six to seven years the treatment will become a routine operation, which will not last more than an hour.
The treatment involves the replacement of a layer of degenerated cells with new cells created
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Scientists have improved the sight of two people who were almost blind by injecting their eyes with stem cells from embryos.
The two women, both registered as blind, saw their vision improve in a matter of weeks after being given the embryo-derived cells in the US safety trial.
The breakthrough holds out the hope of a cure in the future for age-related macular degeneration, which currently affects some 500,000 people in Britain.
The results, published this week in The Lancet, provide a major boost for the field of stem cell reseach.
Professor Daniel Brison, of the North West Embryonic
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