Stem cells return sight to burn-injured eyes

14:31, June 24, 2010      

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Italian researchers have developed an approach to recover sight to patients' burn-injured eyes with transplants of their own stem cells, according to AP reports Thursday.

Success was maintained long-term in all cases. 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. The rest had a partial recovery of vision.

"They were incredibly happy. Some said it was a miracle," said one of the study leaders, Graziella Pellegrini of the University of Modena's Center for Regenerative Medicine in Italy. "It was not a miracle. It was simply a technique."

The approach would not help people with damage to the optic nerve or macular degeneration. Nor would it help those blinded by burns in both eyes because doctors need stem cells to do the procedure.

"The key is whether you can find a good stem cell population and expand it," said Dr. Sophie Deng, a cornea expert at the UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute.

Currently, people with eye burns can get an artificial cornea, a procedure that carries such complications as infection and glaucoma, or they can receive a transplant using stem cells from a cadaver, but that requires taking drugs to prevent rejection.

Source: Xinhua/Agencies

(Editor:王寒露)

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