Eye Lenses Regenerated Using Infants’ Own Stem Cells

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An artistic representation of the human eye from the authors of one of the new reports.

By Live Science

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Stem cells could help treat people with cataracts and even some who are blind by regenerating eye tissue and replacing flawed lenses, according to new experiments in children and rabbits.

In order for people to see properly, both the lens of the eye and the cornea — the layer of tissue that covers the eye in front of the lens — must be transparent.

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Current treatments for people who have clouding in the lens or cornea involve artificial implants or donor transplants, respectively, but these surgical procedures can be risky, researchers said.

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In the new research, scientists performed minimally invasive surgeries on 12 infants under age 2 who all had congenital cataracts — a major cause of childhood blindness.

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They removed the children’s cataracts, but carefully spared certain cells in their eyes, called lens epithelial stem/progenitor cells (LECs), which could then go on to regenerate lenses.

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