Congratulations to Mr. Waters who can read again. His restored vision is a scientific miracle wherein some blind persons were given back their sight with stem cell therapy.
As it turns out, the body of a mammal is such a fantastic dynamic system that if you put the right kind of stem cells in the right location, they sometimes naturally hook up with existing cells and take on required functions.
This odd self-assembly fact allowed scientists to form new eye parts in rats in 2013, to move on to human trials in 2015 and to finally have two long term human successes published eight months ago in Nature, March of 2018.
It may not work for everyone who is blind, but there is no discounting the awesomenss that it works for some. Previously blind, 86-year-old Douglas Waters can read again thanks to stem cell technology.
In a two hour operation, specialists inserted the patch under the retina of each patient, who were then monitored for a year. Both went from not being able to read at all, to reading up to 80 words-a-minute using normal reading glasses.
Douglas Waters, 86, from Croydon, London, was one of two people who had received the treatment at Moorfields Eye Hospital. He developed severe wet AMD in July 2015 and received the treatment three months later in his right eye.
“I was struggling to see things clearly, even when up-close,” he said. “After the surgery my eyesight improved to the point where I can now read the newspaper and help my wife out with the gardening.
“It’s brilliant what the team have done and I feel so lucky to have been given my sight back.”
… We report successful delivery and survival of the RPE patch by biomicroscopy and optical coherence tomography, and a visual acuity gain of 29 and 21 letters in the two patients, respectively, over 12 months. Only local immunosuppression was used long-term. We also present the preclinical surgical, cell safety and tumorigenicity studies leading to trial approval. This work supports the feasibility and safety of hESC-RPE patch transplantation as a regenerative strategy for AMD.
A Phase I clinical study into the use of human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) tissue to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has reported that both patients have regained reading vision. In the article, published in Nature Biotechnology, the authors comment that these results “demonstrate the feasibility and safety of hESC-RPE patch transplantation.
In AMD, the RPE, that separates blood vessels from the nerves in the eye and nourishes the retina, is damaged. In the study, led by Professor Pete Coffey, University College London, and Professor Lyndon da Cruz, Moorfields Eye Hospital (both London, UK), two patients received a transplant of a patch of hESC-derived RPE tissue to replace this damaged tissue using a specially engineered surgical tool. The patients, a woman in her early 60s and a man in his 80s, had severe wet AMD and declining vision. After treatment, they were monitored for 12 months.
Can we grow a whole new eyeball yet? This says yes..
Scientists in Japan’s Osaka University have found a new way to turn stem cells into a human eyeball in what is (needless to say) a remarkable breakthrough for the medical community. According to lead biologist Kohji Nishida, a small sample of adult skin is all that would be required in order to grow retinas, corneas, lenses, and other key components of the eye.
But if you look at the details from 2016, a whole three dimensional eyeball was not grown, just a system that models the different parts of a whole eyeball.
Research groups led by Professor Kohji Nishida of the Department of Ophthalmology and Endowed Associate Professor Ryuhei Hayashi of the Department of Stem Cells and Applied Medicine, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, developed a 2D culture system which mimics the development of the whole eye by promoting cell-autonomous differentiation of human iPS cells.
Biologists led by Kohji Nishida at Osaka University in Japan have discovered a new way to nurture and grow the tissues that make up the human eyeball. The scientists are able to grow retinas, corneas, the eye’s lens, and more using only a small sample of adult skin. The research, published in the journal Nature, details how the Japanese researchers cultured and grew sheathes of rabbit cornea that restored sight in blind rabbits born without fully-grown corneas.
One of the most exciting prospects for Nishida and his colleagues is that, by forming these proto-eyes, scientists can sample from practically all the types of cells needed to fix and rebuild injured eyes—cultured from a patient’s very own body.
Growing all new working human organs from our own stem cells will happen in time, I believe. The question is, which of the 79 or so complete functional organs will be the last to be created? Perhaps the latest one discovered, the fascia?
The are some miracles, but in general we are not there yet, so take good care of your organs.