Scientists Use Stem Cells to Successfully Cure Cataracts
Cataracts account for more than half of all cases of blindness across the world. But now scientists have shown that a person's own stem cells can be used to regrow a 'living lens' in their eye.
Published in the journal Nature, the research has been described as 'remarkable' by experts and is being lauded as one of the finest achievements in regenerative medicine.
Surgeons successfully reversed blindness in 12 children born with congenital cataracts by activating stem cells in the eye to grow a new lens, negating the need for an implanted one. Within just three months, a clear, cataract-free lens had developed in all of the patients' eyes.
"The success of this work represents a new approach in how new human tissue or organ can be regenerated and human disease can be treated, and may have a broad impact on regenerative therapies by harnessing the regenerative power of our own body," said Dr Kang Zhang, one of the researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
Dr Dusko Ilic, a reader in Stem Cell Science at King's College London, said: "This is one of the finest achievements in the field of regenerative medicine until now."
The hope now is that the technique can be used to develop a way of treating older patients who are suffering with poor sight because of age-related cataracts.
Cataract surgery is the most common procedure carried out in England, with around 300,000 patients operated on every single year.