World’s first cornea transplant using adult stem cells

A team of Japanese medics have restored a woman’s eyesight in the world’s first cornea transplant using ethical stem cells.

Induced pluripotent stem cells are adult stem cells which can be used to replicate any cell in the body.

The researchers hope the treatment will be common practice in five to six years.

‘Success’

The woman in her 40s was almost blind in her left eye before the procedure.

The scientists created new corneal cells from a healthy donor’s adult stem cells, which were then transplanted into the woman’s eye.

Professor Nishida Kohji of Osaka University, who led the research, said, “It’s been just a month, but right now we see the operation as a success”.

Waiting list

The unnamed patient’s vision has “improved considerably”, and the team expect the transplant to remain effective for the rest of her life.

Currently, corneal tissue can only be extracted from deceased donors and so this new treatment may drastically reduce waiting times.

In 2017, there were 21 per cent fewer donor eyes available than needed in Britain.

Heart disease

Last year, a revolutionary treatment for heart disease was developed in the UK.

The procedure uses stem cells taken from the patient’s bone marrow which are injected back into the blood stream, encouraging the heart to heal itself.

Clinical trials revealed an 80 per cent success rate at improving heart failure symptoms.

In recent years, adult stem cells have also shown benefits to patients suffering from strokes, Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis.