Stem cell research is a rapidly changing and growing field, with new developments happening regularly. The latest news in the industry is promising: Researchers have repaired damaged corneas using healthy stem cells for the first time in the United States.
You may wonder why this is a big deal — after all, what are stem cells, and why is this a significant development? Stem cells are cells in the body that have the ability to develop into other types of cells. In this case, stem cells from a patient’s healthy eye are being used to rebuild corneas after eye injuries.
The procedure is still in its early stages, with only four patients undergoing the process after experiencing chemical burns to the eye, but the results so far have been encouraging. The potential for stem cell research is sky high, and the possibilities are still being discovered.
If patients have favorable results after this clinical trial, stem cells could potentially be used to help patients who are experiencing corneal blindness.
Stem Cells and Eye Conditions
This isn’t the first time that doctors have made progress with stem cells and eye conditions. In 2019, doctors in Japan used pluripotent stem cells to repair a patient’s cornea, and the patient saw her vision improve after the procedure. Without the stem cell procedure, she would have gone blind. Pluripotent stem cells can transform into multiple different types of cells and are valuable in treatment and research.
It’s important to remember that only licensed, and accredited facilities should be performing stem cell research — if you find a treatment option that sounds too good to be true, it likely is. The American Academy of Ophthalmology says to make sure that the vision treatment you’re receiving is FDA-approved, part of an FDA-approved clinical trial, and covered by your health insurance. Otherwise, you may spend money out of pocket for a treatment unlikely to provide any promising results.
Stem Cells and Other Diseases
Stem cells have also shown promise in treating other conditions, like the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), heart failure, and cancer. Researchers are still learning all of the ways that stem cells can positively impact various medical conditions. Still, the results we do have are encouraging, as evidenced by this cornea damage clinical trial.
If you’re a patient with a corneal disease seeking relief, stem cells could be the answer. We recommend following the latest news about this clinical trial and others to make sure you have up-to-date information about what scientists are discovering.
Both an Emory School of Law graduate and MBA graduate of Goizueta Business School at Emory, Chris Nace focuses his practice on areas of medical malpractice, drug and product liability, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, employment discrimination and other negligence and personal injury matters.