29 Sep 2012

Restoring vision and easing pain using pioneering stem cell treatment

Newcastle scientists have developed a major new treatment to restore vision and ease pain for people suffering from limbal stem cell deficiency – by growing and transplanting new stem cells from a healthy eye.

Limbal cell deficiency, a painful condition which leaves the eye blind by preventing the surface of the cornea from renewing itself, can result from genetic causes or injury such as chemical burns.

However, researchers at the Institute of Genetic Medicine have developed a way of growing a number of stem cells from a small piece of a healthy eye by about 400 times. The expanded stem cells can then be transplanted to the damaged eye – restoring sight and easing pain.

The limbal sample which contains limbal stem cells is grown using no animal cells or products which makes it safer for transplantation. To date eight patients have been treated successfully and a further 25 will be treated in the next four years.


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