Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Shiley Eye Institute, with colleagues in China, have developed a new, regenerative medicine approach to remove congenital cataracts in infants, permitting remaining stem cells to regrow functional lenses.
Congenital cataracts – lens clouding that occurs at birth or shortly thereafter – is a significant cause of blindness in children.
Current methods require removal of the lens epithelial stem cells or LECs, which regenerate and repair lens cells throughout a person's life.
But the newly discovered method will
Preserves the integrity of the lens capsule - a membrane that helps give the lens its required shape to function - and a way to stimulate LECs to grow and form a new lens with vision. It is a minimal invasive surgery method.
Kang Zhang, MD, PhD, chief of Ophthalmic Genetics, founding director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine and co-director of Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering at the Institute of Engineering in Medicine, both at UC San Diego School of Medicine, said, “The success of this work represents a new approach in how new human tissue or organ can be regenerated and human disease can be treated, and may have a broad impact on regenerative therapies by harnessing the regenerative power of our own body.