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Stem cell breakthrough for blind

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The Daily Telegraph article (June 25th, 2010):

Stem cell breakthrough for blind patients ‘after treatment restores vision’
Patients who were left blinded after chemical accidents have had their sight restored using corneas grown from their own stem cells, scientists have claimed.

In the largest study of its kind, Italian researchers said they restored the sight of patients left blinded or suffered severely impaired vision, after suffering chemical burns.

Experts said the study, undertaken between 1998 and 2007, offers new hope to the thousands of people who suffer chemical burns on their corneas from heavy-duty cleansers or other substances at work or at home.

The research is also being hailed as a key breakthrough in scientific regeneration that could give hope to other patients with otherwise irreversible eyesight.

In the study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers successfully extracted adult stem cells from healthy eye tissue before growing additional stem cells that were placed over damaged eye tissue.

The scientists extracted stem cells from the limbus of the patient’s healthy eye, growing them into a thin sheet and, ultimately, grafting it to the eye to create a clear regenerating cornea. Only one square millimeter of limbus tissue was required.

The treatment was successful in more than three quarters of the 112 patients, allowing them to see well again, although some needed more than one graft.

Researchers from the University of Modena’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine said they were able to restore sight completely in 82 eyes, and partially in 14 more.

They said benefits could last up to a decade so far. One man, whose eyes were severely damaged more than 60 years ago, now has near-normal vision.

Graziella Pellegrini, from the University of Modena’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Italy said the study showed that “at least one kind of therapy can give stable results for up to 10 years”.

“They were incredibly happy. Some said it was a miracle,” said Dr Pellegrini, who led the study.

“We have a couple of patients who were blind in both eyes. Can you imagine for these patients the change in their quality of life.”

Stem cells are the body’s master cells, giving rise to a variety of tissue types.

In the study researchers used so-called adult stem cells, which are partly developed cells found throughout the body.

The technique was first performed in 1995. Dr Pellegrini said it has now been done on 252 patients.

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Written by blueroselady

June 29, 2010 at 12:19 am

Posted in sciences

Tagged with ,

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