Stem Cell Transplant Restores Vision of 4 Patients With Retinal Damage
Stem cell therapy has shown promising results in treating vision loss caused by various conditions. So far, researchers have had success with age-related macular degeneration, inherited retinal diseases (IRDs), glaucoma, and corneal diseases.
In particular, however, stem cell therapy has successfully treated corneal blindness, a condition caused by damage to the cornea that can lead to blindness. And now, The Ophthalmology Department of GSVM Medical College claims to have used these miracle cells to restore the vision of four patients who had completely lost their eyesight.
This major medical breakthrough for the visually impaired is the first of its kind in India. The study was such a success, the doctors have applied for a grant to create additional treatment facilities and conduct further research in the area.
Restoring The Vision of 4 Patients With Damaged Retinas
The four-month research project began in 2022 at Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Memorial (GSVM) Medical College in Kanpur, India,
The four patients who took part in the study had each lost their eyesight due to damaged retinas and congenital diseases. One of the patients had a congenital visual impairment and another had an incurable disease of the retina that meant they could not see properly for many years.
The procedure involved using stem cells harvested from placentas and transplanting them into the damaged retinas of the patients. These particular types of stem cells are “pluripotent”, meaning they have the potential to convert into any other type of cell in the body.
The placental cells were then converted into corneal limbal cells to help the damaged tissues heal and regenerate. This entire process took between one to four months and restored the vision in all four patients, with only one small complication that was successfully repaired.
The Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at GSVM Medical College, Prof Parvez Khan, has been extracting stem cells from placenta residues and transplanting them into the damaged retinas since July 2022.
The detailed report of the research has been sent to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), with the hope of conducting large-scale research and serving more patients from the nearby 15-20 districts who regularly come to the center for eyesight treatment.
The Future of Stem Cell Therapy For Vision Loss
Several medical centers around the world have successfully used stem cell therapy to treat vision impairment. However, conducting a stem cell transplant to restore vision is expensive and still needs a larger body of research before it is fully safe and viable as a standard treatment.
That being said, Prof Parvez Khan is hopeful and expects such a procedure to be available in the near future for less than a thousand dollars per patient.
While the use of stem cell therapy for vision loss is still an evolving field, the success of Kanpure Medical College paves the way for future research and development in the area. Stem cell therapy clearly holds the largest potential for curing blindness and helping millions of people enjoy the precious gift of vision for longer.