There are lots of reasons for blindness, but cataracts cause over half of cases. A pioneering and newly developed surgery may make put this in the past, although typically, a high-risk procedure is required to bring back vision to all those afflicted together. Twelve young children’s eyesight has been saved after surgeons activated stem cells inside the eye to grow an entirely new lens as the groundbreaking Nature study discloses.
Stem cells in many cases are touted as being a potentially ground-breaking column of medical science, for good reason. Various kinds of stem cells have already been shown to restore damaged heart tissue and create insulin-producing cells in a malfunctioning pancreas. Although researchers are still some way away from restoring the ability to fully regenerate ruined tissue in organs, they may be progressing along the road to that particular game-changing target.
Bearing this in mind, the team of researchers turned their stem cell experience towards cataracts. Around 20 million individuals are blind because of the damaged lenses. The condition commonly affects the elderly, but all ages may suffer from this.
A standard cataract operation is inherently dangerous, and much more so when performed on children. Significant incisions are created at both front and the rear of the eye; the cloudy lens is subsequently removed and replaced using a clear, man-made one. The man-made lens doesn’t grow together with the kid, meaning that future operations are extremely likely although this restores vision. Inflammation across the incisions can also be not unusual with this kind of surgery.
Earlier experiments on macaque monkeys and rabbits investigated the stem cells lining area of the eye known as the lens capsule, which encircles the lens itself. These “epithelial lens stem cells” (or LECs) were revealed to be often ruined during standard cataract removal operation, but if left whole, they could regenerate healthy lenses.
Twelve young children under two years old were selected to get a fresh kind of minimally-invasive cataract removal operation according to these sorts of LECs. Now, attention was taken to leave their LECs as well as the lens capsules undamaged.
Unexpectedly, inside a month, the incisions were completely treated, as well as in three months the kids had regrown completely functional, naturally-grown lenses.
When compared with traditional operation, these 12 kids had a much briefer healing interval, and had much less inflammation, clearer lenses. This operation was particularly targeted at kids: Their LECs tend to be a lot and youthful more prone to regenerate a fresh lens than mature LECs.