Revolutionary Stem Cell Treatment: Restoring Vision in Corneal Injury Patients

Revolutionary Stem Cell Treatment : The approach tackles ‘limbal stem cell deficiency,’ a corneal condition caused by chemical or other eye injury. He was terrified when an acidic industrial dishwasher solution was poured into Phil Durst’s eyes in 2017. His left eye was impacted mainly; he lost sight, had daily migraines, and couldn’t take intense light. A novel approach to employ stem cells from one eye to treat the other was life-changing.

Durst described his journey: “I was blind and had terrible migraines, almost giving up. But I can drive now and am out of the shadows.”

In this landmark US study, the 51-year-old Homewood, Alabama, man was one of four stem cell transplant recipients. While it may require other therapies, this approach can give hope to those with few options.

A more detailed examination is underway, but the preliminary results were published in Science Advances. Standard corneal transplants to restore eyesight are impossible without limbal cells, which maintain the cornea’s outer layer.

Dr. Ula Jurkunas of Mass Eye and Ear in Boston detailed the difficult process. A little sample of stem cells from the unaffected eye is taken. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute grows these cells on a scaffold in a unique lab. These developed cells are then placed in the injured eye. The first to obtain it was Durst. Jurkunas noted, “We use the patient’s tissue,” eliminating tissue rejection.

Revolutionary Stem Cell Treatment

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Jurkunas stressed that their procedure was better than others that could damage a healthy eye by removing many stem cells. Durst’s right eye, which was barely injured, was used to extract stem cells after the severe accident.

Harvard Medical School’s Jurkunas said Durst’s 2018 surgery was the culmination of nearly twenty years of research. All research participants improved their eye surfaces. Durst and another person received prosthetic corneas afterward. Two people’s sight improved after the stem cell transplant. One couldn’t progress because stem cell development was insufficient.

Durst can see almost perfectly from his right eye, but his left is fuzzy. He will face another issue soon. Japanese tests reveal this stem cell approach might benefit 1,000 Americans annually.

A non-study eye doctor, Dr. Tueng Shen of the University of Washington, remarked, “There is an acute clinical void.” There is no credible medical source for limbal stem cells.

Nick Kharufeh tells about his experience as he awaits the next step of the clinical trial, which will include 15 individuals. Rocket Sparks injured his left eye in 2020. This groundbreaking study required this 26-year-old California real estate agent to move to Boston. His vision allows him to fly a light plane.

Though he no longer wants to be a master pilot, he wants to fly. Whenever California calls, I fly. I’m grateful for this learning opportunity, which has changed my life

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