Durham, NC – Infection, inflammation, trauma, disease, contact lenses – all of these and more can lead to corneal scarring, which according to the World Health Organization is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. While corneal transplant remains the gold standard to treat this condition, patient demand far outweighs donor supply. However, in a study released today in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine researchers demonstrate a potential solution to this major problem.
The cornea is the clear front surface of the eye that not only protects the eye, but allows light to enter and provides as much as 75 percent of the eye’s focusing power. When scarring occurs, the cornea clouds over and impacts vision. The stroma – the thick middle layer of the cornea – plays a pivotal role in normal visual function as it produces a variety of cellular products that support normal corneal development and maintenance.
“As such, corneal stromal stem cells (SSCs) show promise for replacing conventional donor tissues as they are potentially able to regenerate the corneal stromal extracellular matrix, which is essential for maintaining corneal transparency,” said study leader Vincent Borderie, M.D., Ph.D., and first author Djida Ghoubay, Ph.D, both of