Stem cell treatment eye:

Researchers were amazed when stem
cells in a test tube spontaneously
organised themselves into a complex
structure that resembles the
developing embryonic eye.
The team from the Institute of Physical
and Chemical Research in Japan, first
cultivated embryonic stem cells in a
test tube and then added proteins to
trigger them into developing.

The retina is the "business end" of the
eye, where nerve cells convert light
into electrical and chemical signals that
are sent to the brain down the optic
nerve. If it is not working then the eye
is useless.

Professor Yoshiki Sasai, lead author
said: "What we've been able to do in
this study is resolve a nearly
century-old problem in embryology, by
showing that retinal precursors have
the inherent ability to give rise to the
complex structure of the optic cup."

Australian researchers have used
stem cells cultured on a simple contact
lens to restore sight to sufferers of
corneal disease, which is the second
leading cause of blindness in the
world. The scientists from the
University of New South Wales in
Sydney have found their technique
improves patients' vision within weeks.
The cornea is maintained in a normal
healthy state by a permanent reserve
of stem cells that replenish the cells
that are continuously lost from the
cornea in a similar way that cells are
lost from the skin, from exfoliation. The
disease that they are targeting is
called corneal stem cell deficiency.
That means they had a healthy eye
and a diseased eye, so that we were
able to harvest a small tissue biopsy
from the fellow healthy eye from a
region known to contain stem cells.
This biopsy was then placed on a
commonly used therapeutic contact
lens and immersed in the presence of
the patient's own serum. Now serum
was used because it is known to
contain nutrients that stem cells
require for growth. Once the contact
lens was covered in cells, and this
generally took about 10 days to
achieve, it was ready to be placed on
the patient's diseased eye.
One of the patients that we treated, he
had a bilateral disease, so we were
unable to harvest his corneal stem
cells. But what we did was, we biopsied
an adjacent tissue called the
conjunctiva and it's known to contain
stem cells and so we performed a
similar procedure using conjunctival
stem cells which we think then
changed or differentiated into a
corneal-type epithelium.

Italian scientists report that they have
restored sight to patients blinded by
chemical burns using the patient's own
adult stem cells. The team treated 112
patients blinded in one or both eyes;
some of whom had been blind for
years. Adult stem cells were taken from
the edge of a patient's eye and
cultured on fibrin, then the cell layers
transplanted onto the damaged eyes.
The adult stem cells produced healthy
corneas and functioning eyes. Some
patients regained sight within two
months, while for others with deeper
injuries the process took a year before
vision was restored.
Patients were followed up to ten years
after the transplant. After a single
transplant, 69% of patients regained
vision; in some cases a second
transplant occurred, with a total
success in 77% of patients and partial
vision restoration in 13% of patients.
The long-term restoration was an
especially encouraging success of the
Lead researcher Dr. Graziella
Pellegrini, of the University of Modena,
"The patients, they are happy, even
the partial successes. We have a
couple of patients who were blind in
both eyes. Can you imagine for these
patients the change in their quality of
According to the scientists, the key to
success was insuring a high enough
concentration of adult stem cells in the
graft, so that the stem cells could
continue to generate new tissue. The
team reported their findings at the
annual meeting of the International
Society for Stem Cell Research.

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