Scientists design and test new approach for corneal stem cell treatments

November 27, 2013, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Researchers in the Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute have designed and tested a novel, minute-long procedure to prepare human amniotic membrane for use as a scaffold for specialized stem cells that may be used to treat some corneal diseases. This membrane serves as a foundation that supports the growth of stem cells in order to graft them onto the cornea.

This new method, explained in a paper published this month in the journal PLOS ONE, may accelerate research and clinical applications for stem cell corneal transplantation.

Corneal blindness affects more than 8 million people worldwide. Among other causes, corneal blindness can be the outcome of corneal stem cell deficiency, a disease usually resulting from genetic defects or injury to the eye—such as burns, infection or chronic inflammation—that can lead to vision loss. A feasible treatment to rectify vision loss for such patients is corneal stem cell transplantation, either as a biopsy from another eye or by transplanting cultured , although this promising approach is not yet fully standardized.

An approved biological foundation for cultured stem cells is the human amniotic membrane, a thin but sturdy film that separates the fetus from the placenta. For the best growth of stem cells, amniotic cells need to be removed by chemical agents. The existing methods for removing these cells from this membrane are not standardized, leave behind and may cause unwanted loss of some of the membrane components.

The amniotic cell removal method created at Cedars-Sinai takes less than one minute and ensures virtually complete amniotic cell removal and preservation of amniotic membrane components, and also supports the overall growth of various stem and tissue cells.

"We believe that this straightforward and relatively fast procedure would allow easier standardization of amniotic membrane as a valuable stem cell support and improve the current standard of care in corneal stem cell transplantation," said lead author Alexander Ljubimov, PhD, director of the Eye Program at the Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute. "This new method may provide a better method for researchers, transplant corneal surgeons and manufacturing companies alike."

Mehrnoosh Saghizadeh Ghiam, PhD, a research scientist in the Regenerative Medicine Institute's Eye Program, assistant professor in the department of Biomedical Sciences and first author of the study, commented on the potential of the new method.

"The has many beneficial properties and provides an attractive framework to grow tissue and stem cells for transplantations, especially in replacing missing stem cells in the cornea," said Saghizadeh. "Our method for preparing this scaffold for cell expansion is and may streamline clinical applications of cell therapies."

The study was conducted by a research team that includes co-author Katerina Jirsova, PhD, from the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, the director of the Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute Clive Svendsen, PhD, Yaron Rabinowitz, MD, director of the Division of Ophthalmology Research at Cedars-Sinai and Dhruv Sareen, PhD, director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute's iPSC core facility. The Eye Program is in the Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute and collaborates with the Cedars-Sinai department of Neurosurgery and the Cedars-Sinai Medical Genetics Institute.

This new method has been independently validated by our co-author, Katerina Jirsova, PhD, from Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, which is a promising step forward.

Explore further: Lou Gehrig's disease: From patient stem cells to potential treatment strategy in one study

More information: PLoS One. 2013 Nov 13

Related Stories

Lou Gehrig's disease: From patient stem cells to potential treatment strategy in one study

October 25, 2013
Although the technology has existed for just a few years, scientists increasingly use "disease in a dish" models to study genetic, molecular and cellular defects. But a team of doctors and scientists led by researchers at ...

New technique to deliver stem cell therapy may help damaged eyes regain their sight

December 5, 2012
In research published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia, researchers from the University of Sheffield describe a new method for producing membranes to help in the grafting of stem cells onto the eye, mimicking structural ...

Study shows amniotic fluid stem cells, heart cells pass signals without touching

May 2, 2013
Stem cells drawn from amniotic fluid show promise for tissue engineering, but it's important to know what they can and cannot do. A new study by researchers at Rice University and Texas Children's Hospital has shown that ...

Development of new cornea endothelial cell lines provides powerful tool for understanding corneal cell biology

December 27, 2012
Human corneal endothelial cells (HCEnCs) form a monolayer of hexagonal cells whose main function is to maintain corneal clarity by regulating corneal hydration. Cell loss due to aging or corneal endothelial disorders, such ...

Researchers, with stem cells, advance understanding of spinal muscular atrophy

June 20, 2012
Cedars-Sinai's Regenerative Medicine Institute has pioneered research on how motor-neuron cell-death occurs in patients with spinal muscular atrophy, offering an important clue in identifying potential medicines to treat ...

Recommended for you

Study advances gene therapy for glaucoma

January 16, 2018
While testing genes to treat glaucoma by reducing pressure inside the eye, University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists stumbled onto a problem: They had trouble getting efficient gene delivery to the cells that act like drains ...

New study offers added hope for patients awaiting corneal transplants

January 9, 2018
New national research led by Jonathan Lass of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has found that corneal donor tissue can be safely stored for 11 days before transplantation surgery to correct eye problems ...

Diabetic blindness caused and reversed "trapped" immune cells in rodent retinas

January 3, 2018
Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a cell signaling pathway in mice that triggers vision loss in patients with diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion – diseases characterized by the closure of blood vessels ...

Ophthalmologists increasingly dissatisfied with electronic health records

December 29, 2017
Ophthalmologists' use of electronic health records (EHR) systems for storing and accessing patients' medical histories more than doubled between 2006 and 2016, while their perceptions of financial and clinical productivity ...

Higher omega-3 fatty acid intake tied to lower glaucoma risk

December 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—Increased daily intake of ω-3 fatty acids is associated with lower odds of glaucoma, but higher levels of total polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake are associated with higher odds of developing glaucoma, ...

Protein analysis allows for treatment of eye-disease symptoms with existing drugs

December 21, 2017
Demonstrating the potential of precision health, a team led by a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine has matched existing drugs to errant proteins expressed by patients with a rare eye disease.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.