Posted on Jun 30, 2010, 6 a.m.
Italian researchers employ autologous stem cell therapy to restore vision to people whose sight has been compromised by ocular burns.
Among people whose sight has been compromised by ocular burns, an Italian team has restored vision, with success maintained long-term in all cases, including one case in which the patient was treated 30 years after the initial injury. Graziella Pellegnini, from the Center for Regenerative Medicine Stefano Ferrari, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy), and colleagues employed autologous stem cells to permanently restore sight a transparent, self-renewing corneal epithelium of limbal cells in 76.6% of treated eyes. Among the 46 patients with stromal scarring, 21 recovered normal vision with at least 0.6 visual acuity (after additional surgical procedures to correct stromal scarring); among the other 25 patients, a partial recovery of vision resulted. Noting that subjects needed to have at least a fragment of viable limbal cells left in one of their eyes, the researchers write that: “Cultures of limbal stem cells represent a source of cells for transplantation in the treatment of destruction of the human cornea due to burns.”
Rama P, Matuska S, Paganoni G, Spinelli A, De Luca M, Pellegrini G. “Limbal Stem-Cell Therapy and Long-Term Corneal Regeneration.” N Engl J Med, June 23, 2010; doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0905955.