Clinical Trial Shows Positive Results in Stem Cell Therapy for Severe Chemical Eye Burns
A groundbreaking clinical trial has revealed promising outcomes in a new therapy utilizing patients’ own stem cells to treat severe chemical burns to the eye. The trial, involving four patients, showcased remarkable improvements in vision without requiring further treatment.
Of the four patients involved in the trial, two reported significant progress in their vision after one year of follow-up, even without additional interventions. Additionally, the other two patients were able to undergo corneal transplants, which were previously not possible due to the severity of their injuries.
Dubbed cultivated autologous limbal epithelial cell (CALEC) transplantation, the therapy employs stem cells extracted from the patient’s healthy eye to form a tissue graft. Unlike other procedures, CALEC transplantation eliminates the risk of rejection as the cells used are derived from the patient’s own body.
The transplantation process involves harvesting limbal stem cells from the healthy eye’s limbus. This area is often permanently damaged in patients with chemical burns, hindering the normal regeneration of new cells. CALEC transplantation enables the healthy tissue to regenerate on the injured eye’s surface, facilitating subsequent corneal transplants.
The four patients treated in this trial were all males, ranging in age from 31 to 52 years. Each patient experienced varying degrees of improvement, with two achieving significant advancements in vision and no longer requiring corneal transplants.
To assess the feasibility and safety of the procedure, biopsies were taken from the healthy eyes of five patients. Unfortunately, one patient was unable to undergo CALEC transplantation due to the limited expansion capacity of the stem cells. However, the other patients’ biopsied eyes healed without complications within four weeks, demonstrating the short-term feasibility and safety of the therapy.
While these results are promising, further studies are underway to determine the overall efficacy of CALEC transplantation. Researchers anticipate that this innovative approach could bridge the treatment gap for individuals with chemical burns and other eye injuries, enabling them to receive cornea transplants.
The study detailing the clinical trial and its outcomes has been published in the esteemed journal Science Advances. With these exciting findings, the world of ophthalmology is hopeful for a new and effective treatment option for severe chemical eye burns.
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