Those who suffer from vision loss might have new hope today as scientist have announced they are now able to develop corneas and lenses from their own cells.

While this development alone is remarkable it is more important to note that this type of procedure would spare patients the more invasive transplant process commonly implemented today.

“An ultimate goal of stem cell research is to turn on the regenerative potential of one’s own stem cells for tissue and organ repair and disease therapy,” remarks Kang Zhang, MD, PhD, who is the chief of Ophthalmic Genetics as well as both the founding director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine and the co-director of Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering at the Institute of Engineering in Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

CorneaTwo separate studies have published reports in the journal Nature describing the remarkable possibility stem cell development could provide for patients suffering from tissue- and organ-based issues.

University College London Institute of Ophthalmology’s Julie Daniels explains “These two studies illustrate the remarkable regenerative and therapeutic potential of stem cells.”

Zhang also goes on to say, “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.”

And, of course, Zhang has now said that he and his colleagues will look to further expand upon this research to treat age-related cataracts.  This, of course, is the leading cause of blindness around the world, affecting more than 20 million in America, alone.  More than 4 million surgeries are performed every year to replace the cloudy lenses with artificial plastic.  This new procedure could make the process much easier (and, of course, far less invasive).

For now the researchers are ready to being in-human clinical trials, which could begin somewhere within the next three years.

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