Researchers from University of Southampton have discovered specific cells in our eye which could lead to a new procedure to treat and cure blinding eye conditions.
The study has reported that cells called corneal limbal stromal cells, taken from the very front surface of the eye have stem cell properties and its these that could be cultured to create retinal cells leading to new treatments for eye conditions like retinitis pigmentosa, and wet age related macular degeneration a common cause of loss of vision in older people affecting one in three people in the UK by age 70.
The research suggests that using corneal limbus cells would be beneficial in humans as it would avoid complications with rejection or contamination. This is because the cells taken from the eye would be returned to the same patient.
This is a very promising discovery as the corneal limbus is one of the most accessible regions of our eye and it represents 90 per cent of the thickness of the front eye wall. Cells would therefore be easily obtainable from this area with very little risk to the patient's eye and sight. More research is still needed however to develop the approach before they are used in patients.