Dec. 11, 2009
UK scientists report successful adult stem cell treatment of 8 patients with Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency, a painful, blinding disease that requires long-term, costly treatment. Corneal cloudiness has been estimated to cause blindness in 8 million people (10% of total blindness) worldwide each year. Professor Majlinda Lako, a member of the UK team, said:
"This research shows promise to help hundreds of people regain their sight. These exciting results offer a new treatment and hope for people with LSCD."
Professor Robin Ali of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, London noted:
"The Newcastle team has obtained some very impressive results in patients following stem cell transplants to repair the surface of the cornea. It is hugely exciting to see that a type of stem cell therapy can now be applied routinely to treat a form of blindness. These results also provide us with further encouragement to develop stem cell therapies to repair the retina in order to treat conditions such as age related macular degeneration."
The study is published in the journal Stem Cells
Additional good news comes from a recent research presentation by scientists at the University of Cincinnati, who showed that human umbilical cord blood stem cells could clear corneal cloudiness in the eyes of mice.
Last May, Australian scientists reported successful treatment of patients with corneal disease using adult stem cells coated onto special contact lenses. A transparent corneal layer was restored in all 3 patients treated; reported in the journal Transplantation.
Last April, scientists reported in the journal Stem Cells that adult stem cells could completely restore corneas marred by scarring and cloudiness in a mouse model.
A year ago, Swiss scientists reported use of adult stem cells to renew the transparent surface of the cornea in animals.
Eyes can see clearly now with adult stem cells!