Doctors made the world-first step by carrying out a clinical trial using stem cells from donors to create tissue that was transplanted into patients with a condition that causes blindness.
Researchers say the trial offers clues about how eye tissue loss could be repaired using stem cells from organ donors. It also sheds light on the causes of sight disorders.
Trial - Stem - Cell - Deficiency - LSCD
The trial focused on limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD), which can result from damage to eye from chemicals or heat, or be caused by a disease called aniridia. It leads to scarring and severe vision loss in both eyes as well as chronic pain and redness.
LSCD is a significant cause of sight loss -- especially in countries where resources and services are limited -- but it does not typically respond to standard treatments.
Trial - Researchers - University - Edinburgh - National
To carry out the trial, researchers -- led by the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service -- isolated stem cells in the eye's protective layer, known as the cornea.
A normal healthy cornea is transparent, but becomes scarred and opaque when specialised stem cells are lost in LSCD.
Cornea - Samples - People - Eyes - Death
These cornea samples were taken from people who had donated their eyes after death.
The team then grew the stem cells -- which have the unique ability to transform into other cell types -- into tissue ready to be transplanted.
Patients - Groups - Eye - Drops - Medicines
Sixteen patients were split into two groups with both given eye drops and medicines to suppress their immune system to reduce transplant rejection. One group was also given the stem cells.
This is the first time that stem cells have been used in this way in a randomised clinical trial -- the gold...
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