Study in a Sentence: Doctors at the University of Edinburgh carried out the first-ever randomized clinical trial for limbal stem cell deficiency, a condition that causes blindness, using stem cells from deceased human donors to create tissue that was transplanted into patients with the disease. Researchers isolated stem cells from the donated corneas and grew the cells into healthy tissues that were transplanted into half of the participating study patients. The patients that received the stem cell treatment showed significant improvements in vision and repair of the outermost layer of the eyes.
Healthy for Humans: Donated human tissues and organs assist in the discovery of cures and treatments to ensure better health for all. Organ and tissue donors have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to scientific advancement, and in this case, provide others with the gift of sight. Using human stem cells in clinical trials sheds a new light on the causes of sight disorders and allows for the discovery of new treatments.
Redefining Research: The findings from this study show the potential for promising stem cell eye surgery and improvements in eye repair. This study has motivated researchers to pursue a better understanding of how stem cells facilitate tissue repair for diseases that are extremely hard to treat and hopefully develop new techniques to restore vision among patients with limbal stem cell deficiency.
Campbell JD, Ahmad S, Agrawal A, et al. Allogeneic ex vivo expanded corneal epithelial stem cells transplantation: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Stem Cells Transl Med. 2019. https://doi.org/10.1002/sctm.18-0140