Researchers at the University of New South Wales used stem cells, reportedly harvested from the eyes of three patients with damaged corneas, to repair the broken fragile corneal tissue. After culturing the stem cells on a common contact lens, the three patients then wore the lenses for ten days and literally saw much improvement.
From the University of New South Wales:
The trial was conducted on three patients; two with extensive corneal damage resulting from multiple surgeries to remove ocular melanomas, and one with the genetic eye condition aniridia. Other causes of cornea damage can include chemical or thermal burns, bacterial infection and chemotherapy.
“The procedure is totally simple and cheap,” said lead author of the study, UNSW’s Dr Nick Di Girolamo. “Unlike other techniques, it requires no foreign human or animal products, only the patient’s own serum, and is completely non-invasive.
“There’s no suturing, there is no major operation: all that’s involved is harvesting a minute amount – less than a millimeter – of tissue from the ocular surface,” Dr Di Girolamo said.
“If you’re going to be treating these sorts of diseases in third world countries all you need is the surgeon and a lab for cell culture. You don’t need any fancy equipment.”
Because the procedure uses the patient’s own stem cells harvested from their eye, it is ideal for sufferers of unilateral eye disease. However, it also works in patients who have had both eyes damaged, Dr Di Girolamo said.
Here’s a video of the lead scientists of the study explaining their research:
Official statement by the University of New South Wales: Sight for sore eyes…
Abstract in Transplantation: A Contact Lens-Based Technique for Expansion and Transplantation of Autologous Epithelial Progenitors for Ocular Surface Reconstruction
Image: Each row is an eye of one of the three patients from before to after stem cell therapy.