Keratoconus and Corneal Dystrophy Stem Cell therapy
The growing field of stem cell therapy is aimed at another potential eye target: corneal dystrophy.
Research team completed clinical research showing that stem cells can produce new collagen. Stem cell therapy is designed to strengthen and correct the cornea in patients with keratoconus and other diseases associated with dysfunctional keratocytes of the cornea.
After promising results in animal models, the treatment paradigm was evaluated in 5 adult patients with advanced keratoconus.
“This study suggests that stem cells can be used and procedure is safe and that stem cells produce new healthy collagen in diseased eyes,” said lead researcher.
In the first stage of the trial, stem cells were extracted from each patient. When the cultured stem cells were ready in treatment dosage, they was injected.
Researchers decided to use stem cells because of their ability to differentiate into many types of cells and their easy accessibility compared to other methods.
After implantation procedure, there was no inflammation or episodes of rejection. And, despite concerns about the perforation of a thin and weak cornea, the team did not observe any adverse effects on the corneal biomechanics.
Six months after treatment, patients showed improvement in UCVA per line, and BCVA increased by 2 lines with a rigid contact lens. The visual data was not available for the 5th subject, who did not complete a full assessment of the follow-up actions. In all subjects, the concentration of IOP and endothelial cells remained stable, and confocal biomicroscopy confirmed the survival of stem cells. The excellent sphere improved in 2 participants and remained at a basic level of 3 participants.
In the long term, these treated keratocytes should be able to take over and compensate for the defect created by patients with keratocytes, restoring the thickness of the cornea.
Other researchers have developed a new technique for treating the eye by using stem cells, which will help the natural recovery of eyes damaged by an accident or illness. This technique can help millions of people around the world preserve and even restore their vision.
Researchers describes a new method for creating membranes by using stem cells. This technology is designed to treat corneal damage, which is one of the main factors leading to blindness on the planet.
The standard treatment for corneal blindness involves corneal transplantation or stem cell injections. For some patients, such treatment after a few years may fail, since the healed eye does not contain the stem cells needed for the current restoration of the cornea.
Laboratory tests have shown that membranes support cell growth.
Treatment of corneal blindness is particularly urgent in developing countries, where the incidence of chemical or traumatic eye damage is high, and complex treatment such as transplantation or amniotic transplantation is not available to the majority of the population.
Due to high regenerative potential of stem cells we can use it.
This technique is also relevant for more developed countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America,
Current methods of treating corneal blindness are based on donor tissue for the delivery of cultured cells, which implies the presence of a tissue bank. But not everyone has access to such a bank and it is absolutely impossible to completely eliminate all risks of disease transfer when working with living human tissue
With the use of artificial material, some risks for patients will be excluded, and this material will be available to all surgeons.
We also hope that a full cycle of treatment using stem cells will not only be better than current treatment courses, but, at the same time, cheaper.
Stem cells helped doctors cure opacity of the cornea , according to the American Society of Cell Biology. Thus, a very common human disease in the future will be possible to treat without surgery.
Revitalization (rejuvenation) by using stem cells – method is based on the ability of stem cells injected into the body to merge with damaged structures, differentiate by their type, giving rise to a new healthy tissue, and to isolate various active substances (including growth factor) stimulating influence on surrounding structures.
It should be noted that in the field of treatment of ophthalmic diseases, both autologous stem cells (taken directly from the patient) and allogenic (embryo / fetal) stem cells produce various biologically active substances are actively used today
Such substances activate restoration of deformed tissues and other cells , and also debug the natural process of tissue and cellular homeostasis.
Of course, in some ophthalmic cases there is no urgent need to use stem cell therapy, however, after eye burns or recurrent corneal erosion, standard treatment often does not lead to the desired results.
And later, closure of epithelial damage results in irreversible changes in the cornea. Therefore, in these cases, stem cell transplantation is not only desirable, but also necessary, because their injection into the body leads to a decrease in the turbidity of the cornea, stimulation of the processes of the reparative restoration, suspension of the flow and normalization of blood flow in the conjunctiva.
The positive effect of the injection of stem cells gives such elements contained in them as cytokines, interleukins and growth factors, their presence / functions activates regenerative processes and supports vital activity of all cells and tissues. Procedure of stem cell transplantation for the patient is incredibly simple – no surgical intervention is required – a simple infusions can be used.
Ten years ago, researchers announced that they successfully converted human embryonic stem cells into retinal pigment epithelial cells.
These cells help keep photoreceptors of the eye healthy. But when the state of retinal pigment epithelium deteriorates, a person can go blind. This happens, as a rule, with age-related macular degeneration of the retina and macular degeneration – a genetic disease that affects young people.
Researchers team tried to reverse this process. Scientists injected stem cells to 18 volunteers, half of whom had age-related macular degeneration, and the other half had Stahtgart disease. A year later, the condition of eyes of 10 patients improved, another three stabilized. Each of these 13 people showed an increase in pigmentation, indicating that the transplanted stem cells are working.
Since only one eye of each person was treated (for ethical reasons, the study did not have a separate control group), it was possible to follow the dynamics of the disease in the second. In all cases, the condition of the paired eye continued to deteriorate.
On average, the patient’s vision improved by three lines according to the standard visual acuity test. During treatment (and it began in 2012), no serious side effects were found, including no signs of the appearance of tumors, the main potential risk in stem cell therapy.
The aim of the study was to stop further deterioration in vision, so improving visual abilities was an unexpected pleasant bonus for researchers.