7 June : In what is claimed to a world- first breakthrough, scientists claim to have used stem cells cultured on contact lens to restore sight in the sufferers of blinding corneal disease.A team at the University of New South Wales harvested stem cells from patients’ own eyes to rehabilitate the damaged cornea. The stem cells were cultured on a common therapeutic contact lens which was then placed onto the damaged cornea for 10 days during which the cells were able to re-colonise the damaged eye surface.
While the novel procedure was used to rehabilitate damaged corneas the researchers say it offers hope to people with a range of blinding eye conditions and could have applications in other organs, a journal reported in its latest edition.
In fact, the trial was conducted on three patients, two with extensive corneal damage resulting from multiple surgeries to remove ocular melanomas and one with the genetic eye condition Aniridia.
Other causes of cornea damage can include chemical or thermal burns, bacterial infection and chemotherapy."The procedure is totally simple and cheap. Unlike other techniques it requires no foreign human or animal products only the patient’s own serum and is completely non-invasive."The operation is relatively non-invasive. The patient merely comes into the hospital for a couple of hours to have their eye prepared and the lens put in place, and then they’re able to go home”, study’s lead author Nick Di Girolamo
"There’s no suturing, there is no major operation all that’s involved is harvesting a minute amount less than a millimetre of tissue from the ocular surface”, he said.
"If you’re going to be treating these sorts of diseases in third world countries all you need is the surgeon and a lab for cell culture. You don t need any fancy equipment," he added.