Oct. 8, 2010
Corneal disease is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, after cataracts. In September, Dr. Jean Peduzzi Nelson testified to the U.S. Senate about the success that Italian doctors have achieved at restoring sight to patients with corneal blindness, using adult stem cells. The details of the successful adult stem cell treatment are given in a June 2010 paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The Italian doctors treated 112 patients who had corneal blindness due to chemical burns. The clinical team isolated adult stem cells from a portion of the patients eye, grew the cells in the lab to create many new corneal cells, and transplanted the new cells onto the damaged eyes. Over 77% of patients recovered normal vision, 13% of patients had partial vision restoration. Patients with superficial damage were able to see within one to two months, while more extensive injuries took several months longer to recover. Follow-up of patients was from three years up to ten years so far. One of the successful transplants was a man who had severe damage in both eyes as a result of a chemical burn in 1948. The doctors grafted stem cells from a small section of his left eye to both eyes. His vision is now close to normal.
The evidence is clearly seen--Adult Stem Cells are helping patients now.