A man’s vision has been restored by a corneal patch grown from adult stem cells by a team at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) and the Bernard O’Brien Institute of Microsurgery (BOBIM).
The patch, which replicates the cornea, was cultivated from a single stem cell from a donor eye and was transplanted to the surface of the man’s eyes.
The research team was led by Dr Mark Daniell (CERA) and Dr Erik Thompson (BOBIM).
The process, known as a limbal stem cell transplant, is thought to be the first of its kind in Australia. The Melbourne success significantly advances international research in limbal stem cell transplantation in the eyes.
The patient had severe vision loss caused by stem cell failure on the surface of the eye, causing scarring and a vascularised and opaque appearance.
“He had reduced mobility, could not read and could not work, but he has now resumed duties as an accountant, enjoys sight (slightly lower than normal 20/20 acuity) and has increased mobility and quality of life and renewed optimism,” Dr Daniell reports.
He says the surface of the man’s eyes was removed and the patch (about 50mm long and a micron thick) was applied and is healing well. “This technique can now assist people with alkaline burns who have damage to the surface of their eyes.”
Dr Daniell and his team are now working toward developing a totally bio-engineered cornea, using a stem cell extracted from elsewhere on a person’s body other than the eye.
Editor's Note: Original news release can be found here.