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Stem Cells Shown to Restore Sight To Eyes Damaged By Burns

 
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06/30/2010 06:38 AM
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Stem Cells Shown to Restore Sight To Eyes Damaged By Burns
A long-term study by Italian researchers shows that stem cells can help restore vision in eyes that have been blinded by burns. Moreover, the restored vision remained stable over 10 years.

Patients whose eyes have suffered heat or chemical burns typically experience severe damage to the cornea -- the thin, transparent front of the eye that refracts light and contributes most of the eye's focusing ability. The Italian technique uses stem cells taken from the limbus, the border between the cornea and the white of the eye, to cultivate a graft of healthy cells in a lab.

During the 10-year study, the researchers implanted the healthy stem cells into the damaged cornea in 113 eyes of 112 patients. The treatment was fully successful in more than 75 percent of the patients, and partially successful in 13 percent. Success was defined as an absence of all symptoms and permanent restoration of the cornea.

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