Scientists Harness Stem Cells for 'Grow-Your-Own' Eye Repair Surgery - Dream Health

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Thursday 17 March 2016

Scientists Harness Stem Cells for 'Grow-Your-Own' Eye Repair Surgery


Scientist Come up with Innovative Way of Helping Vision Issue

Two teams of scientists have come up with an innovative way of helping people with vision issues in regenerating their own eyes. The researchers in an experiments, developed a new surgical procedure which tends to reset powerful stem cells in the eye and replace eye tissue that have been damaged by cataracts or other eye diseases.

 In another case, the team of Japanese researchers located a way to turn ordinary skin cells into various types of cells found in the eye. Both the experiments provided ways to ultimately replace cataract or cornea surgery according to experts. Ophthalmologist Dr Julie Daniels of University College London had written in a commentary in Nature that had published both studies stating that `these two studies illustrate the remarkable regenerative as well as therapeutic potential of stem cells. Cataracts are considered to be the No.1 cause of blindness all over the world.

 According to the National Eye Institute, by the age of 80, over half of the Americans tend to have cataract or have had cataract surgery. Up to 20 million people, globally tend to get surgery every year. It is due to the proteins in the lens that mass up, blurring and finally blocking the vision.

Researchers’ Attempt to make Stem Cell – Replace Damaged Lens

They can be easily treated by removing the damaged lens and replace it with a plastic lens, though it does not always seem to work and a person may develop problems later in life. Some babies also seem to be born with cataracts too. Researchers have been making attempts to cultivate ways of making stem cells, the body’s master cells and replace the damaged lens in a natural manner.

Dr Kang Zhang of Sun Yat-sen University of China and the University of California, San Diego together with his colleagues, in the first study, tweaked a technique which was usually used in removing the damaged lens so that more stem cells of a kind known as lens epithelial stem/progenitor cells would be left behind. They observed that the stem cells at times proliferate when damaged lens is removed, but not adequate to regenerate the lens.

New Minimally Invasive Cataract Surgery Method

The present surgical process for cataract treatment tends to destroy the integrity of the lens capsule as well as the very lens epithelial stem/progenitor cell which tends to hold the regenerative basic to lens restoration. It was mentioned in their report, published in Nature that it is related with various side-effects as well as significant risk of complications especially in infants.

 The researchers attempted their method in rabbits initially, then monkey and eventually in 12 babies born with cataracts in China. They wrote that they had conducted a clinical trial in paediatric cataract patients up to two years of age in order to identify whether lenses could be regenerated in humans utilising minimally invasive surgery.

There seemed to be no complications where all the 12 children seemed to develop clear lenses and their vision would be tested as they grow to see if it would be normal. The team had mentioned that in this study, that there a new minimally invasive cataract surgery method preserves the integrity of the lens capsule and related lens epithelial stem/progenitor cells, enabling functional lens regeneration in animals as well as humans. A stem cell scientist at Kings’ College London, Dr Dusko Ilic, called it `one of the finest achievements in the field of regenerative medicine till now’.

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