28 January 2015
A team of researchers have developed a new way to treat corneal blindness by generating transplantable stem cells.
Human corneal cells were used to create pluripotent stem cells, which have the ability to become almost any type of cell in the body. The team then put these cells onto natural scaffolds to encourage them to become corneal cells.
Corneal deficiencies can be caused by genetic problems, inflammation or an injury to the eye, but they often result in damage or death of stem cells, which renew the outermost part of the cornea.
Published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, the study shows that stem cell-derived cells are "attractive candidates" for creating corneal cells, according to Alexander Ljubimov, director of the Eye Program at the Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute and principal investigator on this research study.
The findings mark an important initial step towards being able to develop a pool of corneal stem cells, which could potentially help patients who suffer from many forms of blindness affecting this area of the eye.
Now the team are trying to optimise the process with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Posted by Phillip Briggs
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