UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The forty-year-old Japanese woman became the first person in the world to have the cornea restored using induced stem cells. Successful surgery in July 2019 was reported by researchers from Osaka University.
The head of the research team, ophthalmologist Kohji Nishida, said the woman had a disease in which the epithelial stem cells responsible for corneal repair are lost. This is a convex transparent shell that serves to refract light and protect the eyes.
If the restoration of the cornea does not occur, the person sees the objects blurred, and in the end, a violation can lead to blindness.
According to Nature, for the treatment of the patient, the team created strata from corneal cells obtained from induced pluripotent stem cells .
Scientists used donor skin cells and reprogrammed them. First, the cells returned to their “initial” state, losing their previous specialization. After that, they can be transformed into other types of cells. In this case, the ultimate goal was to obtain corneal cells.
According to experts, after the operation, the cornea of their patient became transparent, and her vision improved within a month. No side effects have been discovered so far.
Now the team continues to monitor the condition of the woman: subsequently, scientists will have to report on the long-term effectiveness and safety of the new technique.
It is reported that the Ministry of Health of Japan gave the scientific group permission to test the procedure on four volunteers. The next operation is scheduled for the end of this year.
Experts hope that the procedure for rescuing the cornea with the help of induced stem cells from the patient himself will go into clinical practice in five years.
In the meantime, tissues from deceased donors are used to treat patients with such disorders. However, this is associated with certain risks (for example, there is a high probability of rejection after transplantation). And in Japan, the wait for suitable materials for transplantation is delayed for a long time: donor tissue is not enough for all patients.
Recall that it was the scientists from the Land of the Rising Sun who discovered that mature cells can be reprogrammed into the “source”, which have the functions of embryonic stem cells. For this discovery, researchers in 2012 won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Since then, Japanese experts have created several innovative treatments using induced cells. We are talking, for example, about the fight against damage to the spinal cord , Parkinson’s disease , as well as various eye diseases .
Earlier, Vesti.Nauka (nauka.vesti.ru) talked about how the retinal cells created in the laboratory saved the vision of an 80-year-old patient. Another breakthrough work by the Japanese showed that induced pluripotent stem cells can be transplanted from one person to another.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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