According to the World Health Organization, there are 285 million people in the world who are totally or partially blind. Fortunately, science continues to evolve and scientists have now learned how to grow eye tissues with newly discovered cell reprogramming technology.
The idea itself belongs to Shinya Yamanaka, a professor at Kyoto University. Yamanaka and British biologist John Gurdon won the Nobel Prize for their work in 2012.
The essence of this discovery is as follows: Yamanaka, together with his colleagues, discovered the ability of cells with their own functions in the body to return to the embryonic state through reprogramming.
These reprogrammed cells, in turn, can be used to “grow” the organs and tissues needed for later use in transplantation and regenerative medicine.
This is how scientists “grow” eye tissues to cure blindness. Eye tissue transplantation clinical trials are currently underway in different countries.
Scientists from Cardiff University and Osaka University transplanted corneal epithelium into blind rabbits to restore the anterior part of the eye.
Similar tests were conducted at the Russian Federal Institute for Scientific Research in Physical Chemical Medicine, and they learned how to make the retina of the eye grow from skin cells.
Human clinical studies are expected to take place later this year. The retinal transplant operation will be performed in a family with genetic macular degeneration.
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Preview photo credit Fraunhofer IAP