In a recent study stem cells were used to repair a damaged cornea. University of Gothenburg scientists have successfully cultivated
stem cells on human corneas.
Approximately 500 corneal transplantations are carried out each year in Sweden, and about 100,000 in the world. The damaged and cloudy cornea that is turning the patient blind is replaced with a healthy, transparent one. But the procedure requires a donated cornea, and there is a severe shortage of donated material. This is particularly the case throughout the world, where religious or political views often hinder the use of donated material.
Replacing donated corneas
First time ever on human corneas
"Similar experiments have been carried out on animals, but this is the first time that stem cells have been grown on damaged human corneas. It means that we have taken the first step towards being able to use stem cells to treat damaged corneas", says Charles Hanson. "If we can establish a routine method for this, the availability of material for patients who need a new cornea will be essentially unlimited. Both the surgical procedures and the aftercare will also become much more simple", says Ulf Stenevi.
Few clinics conduct transplants
Only a few clinics are currently able to transplant corneas. Many of the transplantations in Sweden are carried out at the ophthalmology clinic at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Department of Ophthalmology, Mölndal.