By Rob Waters
June 18 (Bloomberg) -- Patients blinded in one or both eyes by chemical burns regained their vision after healthy stem cells were extracted from their eyes and reimplanted, according to a report by Italian researchers at a scientific meeting. The tissue was drawn from the [limbus]("http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/341287/limbus"), an area at the junction of the cornea and white part of the eye. It was grown on a fibrous tissue, then layered onto the damaged eyes. The cells grew into healthy corneal tissue, transforming disfigured, opaque eyes into functioning ones with normal appearance and color, said researchers led by [Graziella Pellegrini]("http://ilo.unimo.it/Show/People.aspx?Action=Data&IdUniversity=1&IdDepartment=18&IdPeople=867&IdPeopleDept=869&IdLanguage=1") of the University of Modena’s Center for Regenerative Medicine. The stem-cell treatment restored sight to more than three- quarters of the 112 patients treated, Pellegrini said yesterday in a presentation at the [International Society for Stem Cell Research]("http://www.isscr.org/") meeting. She estimated the work may benefit 1,000 to 2,000 patients in Europe whose eyes have been damaged by [chemical burns]("http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/first-aid-chemical-burns/fa00024") and many more in developing countries where the use of chemicals is less regulated. Her patients were followed for an average of three years and some for as long as a decade. “The patients, they are happy, even the partial successes,” she said in an interview at the meeting in San Francisco. “We have a couple of patients who were blind in both eyes. Can you imagine for these patients the change in their quality of life?”
Another win for adult stem cell research.