People suffering from visual impairment can soon have their vision restored using their own stem cells. Scientists from Osaka University and Cardiff University have used stem cells to create living tissue that could repair damaged lenses, retinas and corneas to restore the power of sight.
The human stem cells were used to create a disc in a lab that generated different types of eye cells such as the cornea, lenses and retinas. The research team successfully transplanted those corneal cells to a rabbit that had vision-impairing corneas, allowing them to see again.
‘Eye tissues developed using human stem cells were shown to repair the eye and restore lost or damaged vision.
Another study conducted by Chinese and American scientists used stem cells to regenerate lenses inside the human eye. The researchers treated 12 toddlers who suffered from cataracts. The results showed that the lenses removed with surgeries were restored with new lenses using stem cells.
The research team expected this positive result because artificial lenses become cloudy in cataract patients as their new eye cells regenerate over them.
However, the new study has proven that stem cells can be used to create any eye cell, not just lens cells.
Mark Daniell, head of corneal research at Melbourne's Centre for Eye Research Australia (who wasn't involved in the project), called the development "mind-boggling," "science fiction," and "an eye in a dish."
Stephanie Watson, a clinical professor at the Save Sight Institute, said stem cells grow different types of ocular tissues, and most techniques to date have focused on growing one particular eye tissue or cell at a time.
"Where often in eye diseases, more than one layer might be affected by injury or disease and so it was a way of basically moving towards recreating an eye," she said.
The findings were published in the journal Nature