The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Adult stem cell stunner: blind can now see

It’s being hailed as a major breakthrough in treating the visually impaired — and some of the results are truly amazing:

Dozens of people who were blinded or otherwise suffered severe eye damage when they were splashed with caustic chemicals had their sight restored with transplants of their own stem cells — a stunning success for the burgeoning cell-therapy field, Italian researchers reported Wednesday.

The treatment worked completely in 82 of 107 eyes and partially in 14 others, with benefits lasting up to a decade so far. One man whose eyes were severely damaged more than 60 years ago now has near-normal vision.


“This is a roaring success,” said ophthalmologist Dr. Ivan Schwab of the University of California, Davis, who had no role in the study — the longest and largest of its kind.
Stem cell transplants offer hope to the thousands of people worldwide every year who suffer chemical burns on their corneas from heavy-duty cleansers or other substances at work or at home.

The approach would not help people with damage to the optic nerve or macular degeneration, which involves the retina. Nor would it work in people who are completely blind in both eyes, because doctors need at least some healthy tissue that they can transplant.

In the study, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers took a small number of stem cells from a patient’s healthy eye, multiplied them in the lab and placed them into the burned eye, where they were able to grow new corneal tissue to replace what had been damaged. Since the stem cells are from their own bodies, the patients do not need to take anti-rejection drugs.

Continue at the link.

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posted June 23, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Totally wonderful news.

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posted June 23, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Excellent–Every breakthrough achieved with adult stem cells brings us closer to stopping the demand for embryonic stem cell research.

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posted June 24, 2010 at 4:36 am

This is good news, indeed.
Within five years, we will be able to regenerate teeth with a similar technology, also based on “adult” stem cells.
Most of the good news in this area is coming out of backwards, lost, dying Europe, by the way. Our swan song? Or have the culture wars cost America too many scientists?
Scientists, not technicians.

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Regina Faighes

posted June 24, 2010 at 11:08 am

This is a modern-day miracle!

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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted June 24, 2010 at 8:00 pm

This great news makes one wonder what would be the progress of adult stem research if all the tons of money spent on embryonic cell research had been spent on adult stem research. But the politically correct attitude was that adult stem research would be a waste of money while research on the other type would–we were told–lead to all sorts of medical miracles. Yet logic–based on the everpresent rejection problem–clearly pointed to which path would likely lead to the fastest and best results–and medical “miracles.”

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posted June 25, 2010 at 1:05 am

You couldn’t be more right Dcn. John! Even worse, our pro death president just approved more funding last week for, you guessed it, NEW EMBRYONIC STEM CELL LINES. And a reminder, one of the first things Obama did when he got into office was REVERSE George Bush’s funding for Adult stem cell work.
Pete, short of the 2nd coming, I can guarantee you, short of the handful of truly ethicial scientists, that the funding and “research” into ESC isn’t going to be ending anytime soon. For anyone who hasn’t figured it out yet, ESC research was driven by other agendas, not cures, one of them the “desensitization” of abortion and of course “quick greed money”, as sadly is often the case in science.
Panthera I work in this field, and unless something big happend while I was under a rock or something, Europe is no where in the lead with adult stem cell work. Perhaps you are confusing it with some of the countries that offer ESC treatments, being that those treatments are NOT, and I doubt ever will be, approved in the US.
Getting back to Dcn. John’s comment, it’s simply mind blowing to think of the money, time, HYPE, false hope, and most of all, dead embryos, that resulted from, at least IMO,one of the biggest bamboozles of the American people in my lifetime.
Thank God for at least the federal funding of George Bush.
Funny how the MSM never acknowledges that fact, or the “big lie.”

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posted June 25, 2010 at 10:08 am

I teach at one of the leading universities of natural sciences on the planet, located in Europe, so was speaking of the natural sciences in general, not stem-cell research in specific.
Of course the Americans have made significant contributions over the last decades. Nobody questions this. It is, however, a simple matter of fact that, increasingly, young Americans interested in theoretical work find Europe to be a more congenial environment.
There is also the not entirely minor factor of several hundred thousand (I can prove that figure, my personal suspicion is that we are at well over one million) university graduates who have left the US to live abroad because they can not live as equal citizens, with their same-sex partners in the US.
This is, on a smaller scale, precisely the problem which small-towns face (Rod Dreher laments this constantly, while not accepting any of the clear reasons for the attrition) in the US. Especially in places like Kansas or the Deep South.
Personally, I would prefer our research went into adult stem cells.

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posted June 26, 2010 at 6:27 pm

I wonder how something like that would work for bullus Keratopathy (sp?)? I will have to remember to ask my opthalmologist

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marilu naval

posted July 5, 2010 at 6:53 am

Can this procedure help a 27 year old whose cornea in one eye was destroyed by chicken pox in the womb?

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posted July 13, 2010 at 7:56 am

thnk you for sharing

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