New findings from a team of Harvard-affiliated researchers could help humans overcome a leading cause of blindness.
The researchers have found a way to regrow human corneal tissue, in turn restoring vision, using a molecule called ABCB5 that "acts as a marker for hard-to-find limbal stem cells," the Harvard Gazette reports. Loss of limbal stem cells is a major cause of human blindness.
The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, could be promising for victims of chemical injury, burn patients, and others with eye diseases. The Harvard Gazette adds that the research is also one of the first examples of reconstructing human tissue from adult stem cells.
In the study, researchers used stem cells from deceased human donors to regrow fully functional, anatomically correct human corneas in mice. "This finding will now make it much easier to restore the corneal surface," Bruce Ksander, one of the study's authors, said in a statement. "Limbal stem cells are very rare, and successful transplants are dependent on these rare cells."