Thursday, 11 December 2014

Discovered — stem cells in the eye that can restore vision...............

Hyderabad, Dec 11: A study published today in Science Translational Medicine claims to have discovered potent stem cells in the eye that have the ability to restore lost eye sight. 
According to the researchers from city-based premier eye institute and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, US these stem cells would help restore vision in millions of individuals globally in the future, serving as a potential alternative to corneal transplantation, required in patients who have lost vision following an infection or an injury to the cornea.Dr Sayan Basu, Consultant Corneal Surgeon, LV Prasad Eye Institute explains that the stromal cells were obtained from the area between the white and black part of the eyeball called the limbus. 
These cells when applied to damaged corneas healed them within four weeks of treatment. The treatment was tested by Basu, along with James L Funderburgh, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, US, on an experimental model of human eyes with corneal scarring. In an earlier study, researchers had discovered a  method to regrow corneal tissue using the limbal cells called ABCB5 molecule. The researchers used antibodies for detection of ABCB5 to zero in on the stem cells in tissue obtained from deceased human donors. They were used to to regrow anatomically correct, fully functional human corneas in mice.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are cells that possess the ability to renew themselves. They also have the property of differentiating themselves into specialised cells to perform special functions depending on the environment they are grown in.