A biodegradable contact lens filled with stem cells could probably help to treat corneal blindness, according to recent research.
Stem cell technology has revolutionized the practice of medicine. Conditions that were considered untreatable in the past, have a cure today. Basically, all the specialized cells of the body including the organs, skin, lungs etc, are derived from undifferentiated or stem cells. For the purpose of treatment, the stem cells are transplanted to a part of the body that is damaged; the cells then differentiate and repair the damaged organ or body part.
AdvertisementDamage to the cornea is one of the major causes of blindness the world over. Some of these patients could now have a reason to smile - Scientists from the University of Sheffield are trying out the use of stem cells implanted in a biodegradable disc for the treatment of damaged corneas. The scientists hope that these stem cells, once in place over the damaged cornea, will be able to form new corneal cells, and therefore repair the cornea.
The biodegradable disc contains small pockets around the edges that are filled with stem cells. The central portion of the disc is thinner, which is likely to biodegrade faster. It is hoped that the stem cells from the periphery can move and proliferate over the cornea, and thereby repair it.
The usual treatment for corneal damage is either corneal transplant or transplanting stem cells into the eyes with donated membranes. It is a well-known fact that though eye donation is widely encouraged, the number of donated eyes still falls short of the total number required for transplantation. Hence, with the use of a biodegradable lens, the desperate wait for a matching donor may be eased.
It is likely that the new treatment will not only be better than the current treatment, but also cheaper as well. With clinical trials for the new treatment due to begin shortly, it is hoped that it will be successful in treating vision loss due to corneal damage in a number of individuals.