Washington: A new study has revealed that patients with damaged corneas can avoid sight loss due to corneal scarring by treating them with their own cells.
According to mouse model experiments conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, treating the potentially blinding haze of a scar on the cornea might be as straightforward as growing stem cells from a tiny biopsy of the patient's undamaged eye and then placing them on the injury site.
Senior investigator James L. Funderburgh said that the cornea is a living window to the world, and damage to it lead to cloudiness or haziness that makes it hard or impossible to see and the body usually responds to corneal injuries by making scar tissue. We
Funderburgh added that they found that delivery of stem cells initiates regeneration of healthy corneal tissue rather than scar leaving a clear, smooth surface.
The team had previously developed a technique to obtain ocular stem cells from tiny biopsies at the surface of the eye and a region between the cornea and sclera known as the limbus. Removal of tissue from this region heals rapidly with little discomfort and no disruption of vision.
After collecting biopsies from banked human donor eyes, the team expanded the numbers of cells in a culture plate using human serum to nourish them. They conducted several tests to verify that they these cells were, in fact, corneal stem cells.
Lead author Sayan Basu said that using the patient's own cells from the uninjured eye for this process could let us bypass rejection concerns that could be very helpful, particularly in places that don't have corneal tissue banks for transplant.
The team then tested the human stem cells in a mouse model of corneal injury. They used a gel of fibrin, a protein found in blood clots that are commonly used as a surgical adhesive, to glue the cells to the injury site. They found the scarred corneas of mice healed and became clear again within four weeks of treatment, while those of untreated mice remained clouded.
The findings are published in Science Translational Medicine.