Melbourne researchers have found a way to cure blindness in animals, and plan to begin human trials soon. Scientists transplanted cornea cells that were grown in the lab to cure the blindness in the animals they tested on, and because of the good results, feel this could be a viable solution for humans.
But can it?
As of right now, the current method of curing blindness is by transplanting donated corneas. Which, for the record, are the transparent jelly-like layer that covers the front of our eyes. The cells are crucial to eye health, however, with age, health issues, and trauma, we lose them.
This deterioration can lead to blindness, but now having the option to replace them might mean that we can either prevent blindness or reverse it.
One scientist, Berkay Ozcelik, told ABC News, “We believe that our new treatment is better than a donated cornea and we eventually hope to use the patient's own cells, reducing the risk of rejection.”
The problem with donated cornea transplants is immune system rejection. Sometimes when organs are donated, the body doesn’t take to them. This happens about 58% of the time with donated corneas in glaucoma patients.
So what would make this process any different?
According to GOOD, “Ozcelik explained to ABC that the cells are transferred on a synthetic film that mimics plastic wrap. Through a tiny incision on the eye’s surface, scientists implant the film, allowing fluids to flow between the cornea and the eye’s interior.”
The coolest part? That film completely disintegrates within two months.
This technology that allows for a patient to use their own cells and reduce rejection is an exciting new movement in medical advancements. We may not have flying cars yet, but we may have found the ability for humans to regenerate certains cells and live longer, healthier lives.
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