Stanford University researchers have grown corneal cells in a lab – which could help prevent the need for corneal transplants.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 33,000 people in the US undergo corneal transplant surgery every year to replace disease and injured corneas – the usually clear tissue that protects the eye and helps focus light.
But this new research could allow scientists to inject corneal cell directly into the eye, which could help people in developing countries where there is a shortage of donor eye tissue.
According to The Mercury News, millions of corneal cells are being grown at Stanford’s new Laboratory for Cell and Gene Medicine in Palo Alto.
Growing the cells requires a donor cornea to contribute ‘parent cells’.
‘One of the exciting possibilities of this cellular approach is that one donor cornea can generate enough cells to treat tens or hundreds of patients,’ said lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey Goldberg, professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.