Stem Cells Reverse Blindness

Sight restored to people blinded by chemical burns
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Suggested by Disillusioned
Posted Jun 24, 2010 7:14 AM CDT
This image from an Italian study shows the eyes of three patients with alkali burns before and after successful stem cell transplants.    (AP Photo/New England Journal of Medicine)
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(Newser) – Stem cell transplants have helped dozens of people blinded by chemical burns to see again, Italian researchers say. Doctors used stem cells from undamaged parts of the patients' eyes to replace the damaged cornea. The procedure resulted in a successful transplant roughly 75% of the time. One man who badly damaged both his eyes 60 years ago now has near-normal vision after undergoing the procedure, the AP reports.

The procedure—which requires patients to have at least some healthy eye tissue remaining—is still experimental and is not being performed in the US. Earlier attempts at the same procedure achieved only short-lived results, but the Italian researchers say they managed to restore vision in patients for a decade or more. The study shows the vast promise regenerative stem cell treatment holds not just for blindness, but for damaged hearts, livers, and bladders, an ophthalmology professor tells WebMD.

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