Cure for Blindness

Utopie

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BLINDNESS BREAKTHROUGH: SCIENTISTS GROW NEW CORNEAS IN LABORATORY

Thursday August 26,2010
By Jo Willey
source: Express.co.uk - Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: Blindness breakthrough: Scientists grow new corneas in laboratory



MILLIONS of blind and partially sighted people are being given hope they will * see again after artificial corneas were *successfully “grown” in eyes.


In a breakthrough trial, partially blind people were successfully fitted with synthetic implants.

These not only encouraged the growth of their *corneas, but caused *severed nerves to regrow.

The development could prove to be a new cure for corneal blindness, which affects 5,000 people in *Britain and millions more worldwide.

Although it needs further testing in bigger trials, researchers hope the treatment could be available in just five years.

Currently, the only cure for corneal blindness is a human transplant or a tissue graft.

But it carries the risk of infection and there is a chronic shortage of donor corneas. The biosynthetic implants could provide a more reliable alternative.

Last night the Royal National Institute for the Blind welcomed the “exciting development”.

And one of the key workers on the trial added: “With further research this approach could help restore sight to millions.” In the trial, 10 patients with keratoconus – or central *corneal scarring – were given the artificial corneas.

Six found that their vision had significantly improved while, two years later, the transplanted corneas, made of synthetic human collagen, were still 100 per cent “viable”.

Scientists believe the artificial corneas may actually work better than human transplants because cells from the patients’ own corneas grew into the implant.

This resulted in a “regenerated” cornea, and nerves which had been severed during surgery re-grew.

The biosynthetic corneas also began producing tears to keep the eye oxygenated and the “blink reflex”, which occurs when either the cornea is touched or stimulated by bright light, was restored.

The patients’ restored sight was comparable to conventional corneal transplants, according to *findings in Science Translational Medicine.

Not a single patient experienced any rejection or required long-term immune suppressant therapy associated with human donor tissue.

Globally, diseases that lead to clouding of the cornea affect more than 10 million people, making it the most common cause of blindness.

The cornea is the transparent layer of collagen and cells that *covers the eye. It can lose transparency, which damages sight. A loss of cells causes corneal blindness.

Dr May Griffith, of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute which carried out the trial in *Canada, said: “This study is the first to show an artificially fabricated cornea can integrate with the human eye and stimulate regeneration.

“With further research, this approach could help restore sight to millions of people.”

Dr Griffith has developed the *biosynthetic corneas over a decade and then collaborated with eye *surgeon Dr Per Fagerholm, of *Linkoping University in Sweden.

He said: “We are very encouraged by these results.”

Barbara McLaughlan, of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, said: “This is potentially an exciting new development for patients with corneal blindness where currently transplant from a human donor is the only treatment option available. However, more research is needed to determine if this could work for all types of corneal blindness.”

The Canadian project is a Phase 1 trial, designed to show that a therapy is safe. Before it can be used widely, the treatment must undergo two further stages of tests involving larger groups over *several years.

Mr Winfried Amoaku, chairman of the scientific committee of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, said: “The reports of a Phase 1 study of artificial corneas is very welcome.‬

“Corneal blindness contributes significantly to visual impairment worldwide. The only treatment previously has been corneal grafting from donor human tissues.

“However, the supply of such donor material is not available *universally.

“Even when and where available, there are associated risks of *infectious disease transmission, or rejection of the donor material because of tissue mismatch.”‬

The discovery could have implications for the 160 million blind or partially sighted people *worldwide, 360,000 of whom live in Britain.
 

stevie1ball

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let's hope this is a positive step to reducing the suffering of corneal blindness. I think this is one of the worst senses you can have the misfortune to lose your sight.
 

Kruger

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Good news and i hope they will develop this successfully as i have coreacatonus so my sight is effected by my cone shaped cornea and wearing Gas permable lenses is an absolute nightmare.
 
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