Stem cell technology may soon enter the mainstream as a treatment for ocular disease such as glaucoma, says Leo Semes, OD, FAAO, at the annual SECO 2017 conference.
Stem cell therapy is not yet ready for human application; but its advancement may soon provide optometrists with new possibilities for regenerative ocular therapy.
Stem Cells as Treatment for Disease
The excitement over stem cells therapy lies in its versatility in application. One promising area of study is limbal stem cell deficiency.
If limbal stem cells could be harvested, for example, from the patient’s fellow eye, the better eye, grown appropriately in a medium and then transplanted to the cornea, this limbal stem cell deficiency could be overcome. – Dr. Semes
This methodology could theoretically be applied to any physical area of ocular deficiency, provided the stem cells were available.
Fortunately, research suggests that these types of stem cells can be collected from various areas of the body—including areas like the oral mucosa. This would allow practitioners to take cells from analogous tissue rather than directly from the tissue needing treatment, then adapt them for specific medical therapies.
There are a number of means by which appropriately differentiated stem cells can be generated for application to different areas of the bod. – Dr. Semes says.