Ophthalmologists at the University Clinic of the University of Navarra have confirmed the efficacy of a self-designed, novel method of adult stem cell growth for its capacity to grow cornea stem cells in animal studies.
Ana Fernandez Hortelano, ophthalmologist at the hospital, applied the growth technique for the treatment of diseases of cornea in 70 rabbits for the purpose of regaining the damaged epithelium, and thus restoring transparency to the cornea.
The experiments proved the therapeutic efficiency in using corneal stem cells in patients with pathologies of the cornea, such as caustications or ocular herpes, by using stem cells from a healthy contralateral eye.
Dr Fernandez Hortelano's procedure involved obtaining corneal stem cells by means of a biopsy of cells from a healthy eye of the rabbit. Since the sample of cells is as small as 3 by 4 mm, it does not expose the contrateral eye to danger.
The implantation of the adult stem cells so obtained in the damaged eye lead to the recovery of the corneal epithelium, and thereby, the transparency of the cornea.
Experiments on rabbits with induced limbic insufficiency showed that 60 per cent of the animals had recovered the corneal epithelium after the adult stem cells transplant.
The corneal epithelium is the layer that is damaged with limbic insufficiency, a problem that results in opacity of the cornea in the long term.
According to researchers, the importance of this growth method lies in the fact that it enables the characterisation of the cells obtained, that is, determination of the quantity and viability of the units to be used.