With passing time, there are new challenges for the researchers in every sphere of health. For instance, eye problems are becoming more and more common. Even though there is a huge increase in research on health, eye health seems to not have a lot of medical literature on it.
Eye problems are prevalent among people of all ages. Some of the everyday ones are trivial and can be managed by a single visit to a doctor. However, if left untreated, some conditions can lead to irreversible effects such as loss of eyesight.
In addition, certain issues and injuries have no cure present at the moment. For example, cornea rupture or damage as a result of an accident or problem is a big issue. Till now, this means losing vision along with many other complications for the person experiencing it.
New research in Japan sheds some positive light and shows a potential cure for this issue. Testing a new procedure, researchers were able to treat a patient’s cornea. More specifically, the researchers used pluripotent stem (iPS) cells for recovering the cornea of the patient.
The research was led by ophthalmologist Kohji Nishida in the Osaka University in Japan. Its findings appear in the journal Nature.
Stems Cells May Help Repair Damaged Cornea
The cornea is actually the clear part in the middle of the eye. It serves many functions including the protection of the pupil. Any damage in the cornea would be the eye is at greater risk of further problems as well as immediate eyesight issues.
The stem cells in the cornea are responsible for overcoming any damange to the cornea. However, some conditions can also cause damage to these cells, making the recovery of cornea impossible. This is when a person can develop many eye problems including corneal blindness.
Currently, the only treatment that helps in such a case is a donor tissue. Patients who need to undergo this procedure may have to wait a long time until they find a suitable donor. The process itself is also complicated and long.
So, the researchers in the new study went for an alternative method. The main patient, who was a volunteer in the study, had a genetic issue which damaged the stems cells of her cornea. Hence, she was going to lose her vision gradually.
In order to fill gaps between stems cells in her cornea, the researchers added a layer of iPS cells. The iPS are similar to embryonic cells. This means they can take the form of any of the human cells. The results of the study show they can also develop into corneal stem cells.
The follow-up checks on the patient shows that her cornea is working fine and her vision has been restored. The researchers have the permission to perform the procedure on four other patients.
According to the researchers, the second one may take place at the end of the year. Additionally, they state that the procedure may be easily available to the general public within five years. It may also solve the problem of lack of corneal donors and be a better alternative.