Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech Medicine Science

Stem Cells Restore Sight For Corneal Disease Patients 223

Posted by timothy
from the soon-it'll-be-saline-&-stem-cell-solution dept.
Sean0michael writes "Australian scientists have restored the sight of three human test subjects using stem cells cultured in contact lenses. All the patients were blind in only one eye. Two were legally blind, but can now read the big letters on an eye chart. The third could read the first few lines, but is now able to pass a driver's test. The University of New South Wales reports that these patients all had damaged corneas, and the stem cells came from each person's good eye. The best part: the procedure is inexpensive, raising hopes for being able to push this to the third world sooner than other, more expensive medications."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Stem Cells Restore Sight For Corneal Disease Patients

Comments Filter:
  • !embroyonic (Score:5, Informative)

    by bensafrickingenius (828123) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:31PM (#28215293)
    Again.
    • by EkriirkE (1075937) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:38PM (#28215373) Homepage
      "The good news is no aborted fetuses were harmed in the course of these tests."
      • Agreed!

        In fact, I am not sure that there has been even one single break through that wasn't from adult stem cells.
        • Re:!embroyonic (Score:4, Informative)

          by harryandthehenderson (1559721) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:48PM (#28215463)

          In fact, I am not sure that there has been even one single break through that wasn't from adult stem cells.

          That's due to your own ignorance not any actual facts. I found one example just in 2 seconds of googling. This FDA approved study [cnn.com] was based on a previous trial that was able to successfully restore locomotion to those with spinal cord injuries. It is not even the only example just the first one that I found.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Ah, dude, he said breakthroughs, not research. I also did a google search and didn't find much that was successful, though there are hundreds of breakthroughs using adult stem cells.
            • Re:!embroyonic (Score:5, Insightful)

              by harryandthehenderson (1559721) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @05:14PM (#28215767)

              Ah, dude, he said breakthroughs, not research.

              I already told you what the breakthrough was. They were able to successfully restore locomotion using embryonic stem cells in people with spinal cord injuries.

              I also did a google search and didn't find much that was successful, though there are hundreds of breakthroughs using adult stem cells.

              Which are all using as a base the work of those working on embryonic stem cells. Anyone who thinks that none of these breakthroughs were based off of any work done with embryonic stem cells is just plain ignorant.

              • reason (Score:3, Insightful)

                "Most people are not very susceptible to reason." -- Leonard Silk [nytimes.com]
              • Re:!embroyonic (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday June 04, 2009 @05:50PM (#28216155) Homepage Journal

                I guess you failed reading class as well: "The tests could begin by summer, said Dr. Thomas Okarma, president and CEO of the Geron Corporation." You can't restore locomotion in patients from a test that hasn't been done yet.

                And you're a real idiot if you think that the base work in embryonic stem cells has led to anything other than cancer.

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  I guess you failed reading class as well: "The tests could begin by summer, said Dr. Thomas Okarma, president and CEO of the Geron Corporation." You can't restore locomotion in patients from a test that hasn't been done yet.

                  Did you read what I posted? This study was being done based off the work of a previous trial. Here [jneurosci.org] is the trial that was done that precedes the FDA-approved study.

                  Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Cell Transplants Remyelinate and Restore Locomotion after Spinal Cord Injury

                  Way to fail.

                  And you're a real idiot if you think that the base work in embryonic stem cells has led to anything other than cancer.

                  HAHAHAHAHAHA. That's a good one.

                  • by Bryansix (761547)
                    It was in RATS! And they had to inject them within 7 DAYS of the injury!
                    • It was in RATS!

                      So what?

                      And they had to inject them within 7 DAYS of the injury!

                      Which is pretty typical of initial trials. I never said this was a full-blown, ready to use treatment.

                    • by mwvdlee (775178)

                      It was in RATS!

                      Look, I'm as much for using animal right activists in initial trials as you are. But for some reason none of them has stepped forward to take over the role as guinea pig. So rats are still the best we can do for initial trials.

                    • by ArcherB (796902)

                      It was in RATS!

                      So what?

                      And they had to inject them within 7 DAYS of the injury!

                      Which is pretty typical of initial trials. I never said this was a full-blown, ready to use treatment.

                      OK, but that's not what I'd call a breakthrough, which is what the GP was asking for.

                      We've been able to hook up devices to roaches heads and use joysticks to move them around, but that's not exactly what I'd call mind control either.

                      When a Christopher Reeves type patient gets up and walks from an embryonic stem cell treatment, that can not be done from adult derived stem cells and doesn't contract cancer within five years, get back with us.

          • by Bryansix (761547)

            "This is significant because it's the first clinical trial of a human embryonic-based product."

            From that single line in the fucking article YOU posted you can find out that not only is this the FIRST approved research using Embryonic Stem Cells but in addition it is just research and NOT a breakthrough. Way too many people are way the fuck too stuck in their ideology to see the actual reality of the world around them.

            • I didn't say that study was the breakthrough. The breakthrough was the previous trial on which that study is basing it's work on. Please learn to read. The previous trial can be found here [jneurosci.org].

              Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Cell Transplants Remyelinate and Restore Locomotion after Spinal Cord Injury

              I'm pretty sure the fact that that trial was able to restore locomotion after a spinal cord injury would be a breakthrough.

              • by Obfuscant (592200)
                I'm pretty sure the fact that that trial was able to restore locomotion after a spinal cord injury would be a breakthrough.

                A breakthrough for paraplegic rats.

                Using embryonic stem cells that have ALWAYS been approved for research and federal funding.

                I know you want to make this look like Barry got into office and suddenly the lame started walking and the blind can see, but Barry had nothing to do with either the vision repair using adult stem cells or the approval of the TESTS to see if embryonic cells c

        • Re:!embroyonic (Score:4, Insightful)

          by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:54PM (#28215547)

          In fact, I am not sure that there has been even one single break through that wasn't from adult stem cells.

          Plenty of research is going on in embryonic stem cells, right now. Induced pluripotent stem cells were made using lessons learned from embryonic stem cells. That's a huge one right there. And the discovery of ESC itself was a significant advance.

          You might not think of biology as being important beyond what diseases it can cure right now. /.ers tend to be annoyed by people who take this approach to computing. Hmm...

          • Plenty of research yes. Plenty of failures yes. Huge amounts of cancer, yes.

            Actual cures, no.

            • Kind of completely ignored my post, didn't you? Again, not everything in biology is for immediate use. Biology is a science. Cell biology as a scientific inquiry into the workings of the cell, ESC have already proven themselves as valuable research models. Again I'm pointing to IPSC as one of the biggest successes with ESC research.

              It's fine to point out that no cures have come from ESC yet, but they do have other valuable uses.

              • by ArcherB (796902)

                Kind of completely ignored my post, didn't you? Again, not everything in biology is for immediate use. Biology is a science. Cell biology as a scientific inquiry into the workings of the cell, ESC have already proven themselves as valuable research models. Again I'm pointing to IPSC as one of the biggest successes with ESC research.

                It's fine to point out that no cures have come from ESC yet, but they do have other valuable uses.

                You are correct, research is a long process. However, at some point, you have to put aside you political ideology and accept that there may be better ways. The fact remains that even though adult derived stem cells are a fairly new thing, there have been more actual cures from adult stem cells (greater than zero) than there have been from embryonic stem cells (exactly zero) which have been around longer. Adult derived cells have the added bonus of having no political objections for using them. So, why o

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by interkin3tic (1469267)

                  The fact remains that even though adult derived stem cells are a fairly new thing, there have been more actual cures from adult stem cells (greater than zero) than there have been from embryonic stem cells (exactly zero) which have been around longer. Adult derived cells have the added bonus of having no political objections for using them.

                  On the cures thing, I'm going to repeat myself (this makes three by the way.)

                  "It's fine to point out that no cures have come from ESC yet, but they do have other valuable uses."

                  I was talking about research. Research is ongoing, that should be an indication that we don't know enough. 10 years is not enough time to learn all we can about how cells turn from "lump of clay" cells into their final form, and for that we need embryonic stem cells.

                  No one seems to care that there is basic science to be done here,

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Well if you threaten to cut federal funding to any university or hospital that does research on embryonic stem cells, surprise surprise, there are going to be more breakthroughs from other cell types.

          • Re:!embroyonic (Score:5, Informative)

            by Bryansix (761547) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @06:13PM (#28216377) Homepage
            I don't know if you forgot but there ARE other countries in the world besides the United States of America. Your explanation makes no sense.
            • by geekoid (135745)

              True, but any one large country cutting spending on a science will lead to fewer results becasue less people overall will be doing that research.

            • Yes, I see... other countries exist on the planet, so if a country like say the United States were to divert its resources away from embryonic to adult stem cell research, it would have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the pace of development in either. :P

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Obfuscant (592200)
            Well if you threaten to cut federal funding to any university or hospital that does research on embryonic stem cells, surprise surprise, there are going to be more breakthroughs from other cell types.

            You're one of those who claims funding is cut if the amount of funding doesn't get increased as much as you want, aren't you?

            Federal funding of embryonic stem cell research goes on, there are just limits on the use of new cell lines. It's an ethics thing. We already have some embryonic lines to work with, we

            • Re:!embroyonic (Score:4, Informative)

              by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday June 04, 2009 @07:07PM (#28216935) Homepage Journal

              "some people feel are highly unethical actions to get more,"
              yeah, well I am tired of 'some people' telling me nonsense becasue of there 'beliefs'. Ignoring the fact that they are the scraps of In Vitro and not specifically harvest for research.

              "...used and duplicated forever."

              No, they can't. Tehre are serious problems with the techniques which make them not as usable and in many cases worthless for research.

              Who the fuck started spreading that lie?

              • by ArcherB (796902)

                No, they can't. Tehre are serious problems with the techniques which make them not as usable and in many cases worthless for research.

                Citation please. I've heard that some of the "approved" stem cell lines can not be used in actual human trials, but so what? You use government funding and government approved stem cell lines. You get a breakthrough. Use that breakthrough to get private funding and dump all government funding and imposed limitations. Profit!

                Who the fuck started spreading that lie?

                Um... it looks like you are.

            • You're one of those who claims funding is cut if the amount of funding doesn't get increased as much as you want, aren't you?

              Bush did fund research directly on a limited number of cell lines which he specified. But the actual funding to embryonic stem cell research itself isn't the issue.

              What Bush did which was new, was to threaten to withdraw all federal funding for a research institution if anyone there touches something that touched something that was in a lab where something might have touched an unsanctioned embryonic stem cell. The funding is cut off for anything else they may be doing however unrelated... viruses, autism,

              • by ArcherB (796902)

                So you feel that we can ethically use what we obtained unethically. That's certainly a convenient position to take, but it's ethically bankrupt.

                Actually, it was a compromise. Bush did a lot of that early on and every time he reached across the aisle, he drew back a nub. Just look at how YOU are treating him for offering something that the previous president didn't offer. So even though it was more than what you had before, it wasn't everything you wanted, so you bash him like a spoiled child who throws a tantrum when she gets a new car on her 16th birthday in the wrong color.

                According to the people who actually use the sanctioned cell lines, they have already deteriorated to the point of uselessness

                Citation please.

                • Just look at how YOU are treating him for offering something that the previous president didn't offer. So even though it was more than what you had before, it wasn't everything you wanted, so you bash him like a spoiled child who throws a tantrum when she gets a new car on her 16th birthday in the wrong color.

                  You should read posts before responding to them.

        • Re:!embroyonic (Score:4, Insightful)

          by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday June 04, 2009 @06:23PM (#28216483) Homepage Journal

          No fetus has EVER been harmed in ANY stem cell test or experiment. In fact THEY CAN"T BE becasue they weren't fetuses yet. They're not even 200 cells. Hell, more cell dies last time you sneezed.

          There have been many, many, many break thoughs from harvested stem cell.

          Dumbass.

          • by ArcherB (796902)

            They're not even 200 cells. Hell, more cell dies last time you sneezed.

            If you only consisted of 200 cells, you'd really think twice about sneezing. See, it's not the fact that it only uses 200 cells; that's irrelevant. What matters is the percentage. When 200 cells means 100%, it has a lot more meaning. Besides, how many cells are required before a blob of human cells deserves human rights?

            But, if you want to play by your rules, fine. How many cells do you have? If I have more, does that mean I can deem you non-human?

          • by bendodge (998616)

            A zygote is a single-celled fetus (commonly known as "baby"). Here's a quick test to determine if any given tissue blob is a fetus:

            1. Is it's DNA unique to it?
            2. Is the DNA human DNA?
            3. Is it alive?

            I'm sure this simple test will be very useful to your in the future. Maybe I could patent it and sue millions of OB/GYN's!

      • Re:!embroyonic (Score:5, Informative)

        by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:43PM (#28215423)

        Embryonic stem cells don't come from aborted fetuses. They come from in vitro fertilization. ESC are harvested 5 days after fertilization, abortions aren't performed 5 days after fertilization because you wouldn't know.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sexconker (1179573)

          Now you've done it.

          People had the image of evil scientists watching abortions being performed through a hole in the wall, rubbing their hands together and twirling their mustaches in sadistic anticipation of fresh, fetal stem cells. It worked out well. They had a target (that didn't exist) they could all agree to hate.

          Now those people will have to imagine evil test tubes and deal with the fact that many of them have used such services.

          It's only a matter of time before we hear them cry out that they were r

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by bendodge (998616)

          abort: the act of terminating a project or procedure before it is completed; (http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=abort)
          So what if abortions aren't performed on babies in wombs at 5 days. It's still a human life, and you still aborted (see definition) it. You may think it's OK to do that, but call a spade a spade and stop trying to twist the terminology. You ought to be able to defend your position on its own merits.

          • Re:!embroyonic (Score:4, Insightful)

            by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday June 05, 2009 @01:03AM (#28218921)

            abort: the act of terminating a project or procedure before it is completed

            Who is twisting terminology here? It's typical that you went with "abort" rather than "abortion." Abortion of course, to most people, doesn't mean the act of stopping something.

            The actual definition of "abortion" from your source
            "# S: (n) abortion (termination of pregnancy)
            # S: (n) miscarriage, abortion (failure of a plan) "

            That first one is the one the anti-stem cell movement is hoping people will think of, since that's the one they're queasy about. But ESC doesn't involve pregnancy or the termination thereof. It's not a miscarriage. This isn't removing an embryo from a woman to kill it. These are embyros that were never on their way to being born, it doesn't even fall into your definition.

            The hypocrisy here is so thick I can't help but think you're trolling.

            It's still a human life...

            I'm not arrogant enough to claim I know what constitutes human life, but I do believe it's more than just having a set of nucleotide instructions on how to make a human, which is all 5 day old embryos have.

          • by bogjobber (880402)
            It's not twisting the terminology. It's using the terminology.

            A baby is not the same thing as a fetus. A fetus is not the same thing as an embryo. You're the one manipulating language.
          • It's still a human life

            says who? it seems to me that it's a precursor to a human life, much like a sperm or an egg. surely the key component of a human is their conciousness. something that neither a sperm or an embryo possess.

            if a person doesn't exist yet, then you can't hurt them, kill them, or infringe on their rights. They don't exist. An embryo is not a person, it is a sack of chemicals. Until those chemical attain conciousness, they are not a person. Do you consider using a condom as murdering a baby

      • Re:!embroyonic (Score:5, Informative)

        by harryandthehenderson (1559721) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:50PM (#28215487)
        Aborted fetuses aren't used as a source of stem cells since all the cells would be dead. The embryonic stem cells are harvested from leftover frozen embryos from people doing invitro-fertilization that would normally just be thrown out.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by citizenr (871508)

        "The good news is no aborted fetuses were harmed in the course of these tests."

        Why is it a good news? I don't care about fetuses or some occult opinions.

        • Strange usag eof the word "occult." Since Christianity is one of those belief systems that typically includes no-abortion, and since you aren't referring to stem cells specifically here, I'd venture to say you're calling Christianity occult?

          The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus (clandestine, hidden, secret), referring to "knowledge of the hidden"

          And, of course, the word is typically used to describe a specific "occult" religion. Which Christianity is not... neither the Latin definition nor the religion.

          Unless you're trying to say that the opinion (of not wanting fetuses aborted) comes from "hidden knowledge."

          • by CODiNE (27417)

            I'm pretty sure that what he's saying is all religions are equally invalid. It's like calling Christianity an old cult.

    • Re:!embroyonic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pavon (30274) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:46PM (#28215449)

      Which is to be expected. Controlling the differentiation of a cell is still not completely understood and difficult to do. It is easier with partially differentiated cells, and hence with stem cells from the tissue that we wish to regrow. Therefore, the first practical treatments and applications of stem cell research will be using adult stem cells.

      Where embryonic stem cells come into play is by helping understand this differentiation process better. Increasing our knowledge will enable us to develop treatments that aren't possible using adult stem cells, but it will also likely contribute to having safer more effective adult stem cell treatments treatments. It may even shed some light into the entire aging process and cell life-cycle. They are very important things to be studying.

      To put it succinctly, adult stem cells are currently at the R&D stage, embryonic at the pure science stage. Both are important.

    • FTA: "To obtain the stem cells, Dr Watson took less than a millimeter of tissue from the side of each patients' cornea. "

      Yep, not embryonic. For all the hype of embryonic stem cells, we've yet to see *ANYTHING* good come out of them.

    • I'm getting really tired of all of these Stem Cell articles. SC are doing some rather nice things for medical science and when it comes down to it there shouldn't really be any controversy. Embryonic SC are the controversial ones and they haven't been used in any treatments to date (there is one scheduled for next year though).
      I think that we need to stop calling SC SC unless they are of the embryonic SC. This will clear out all of the controversy and will allow the funding to be freed up without any tr
  • Types of stem cells (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oneirophrenos (1500619) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:44PM (#28215429)

    The article doesn't go into very much detail on what the stem cells really were or how the were produced, so I assume what they refer to as "stem cells" are really multipotent stem cells (or so-called progenitor cells [wikipedia.org]), rather than the pluripotent stem cells that are obtained from the embryo and that can differentiate into any adult tissue. Multipotent stem cells are found in many regenenerating tissues, such as epithelia and bone marrow, but it should be noted that they are not stem cells in the sense that they would retain the ability to differentiate into any cell type.

    • by harryandthehenderson (1559721) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:53PM (#28215531)

      The article doesn't go into very much detail on what the stem cells really were or how the were produced,

      They weren't produced. They were somatic stem cells that were in the patients good eyes.

      so I assume what they refer to as "stem cells" are really multipotent stem cells (or so-called progenitor cells [wikipedia.org])

      No, you would be wrong. As the summary and the article state these are adult stem cells [wikipedia.org] or somatic stem cells as they are also called.

      • by compro01 (777531)

        1. I would presume they were produced from cells harvested from the good eyes.

        2. Adult stem cells are multipotent progenitor cells.

        • 2. Adult stem cells are multipotent progenitor cells.

          Sorry, but no. Progenitor cells are differentiated. Somatic stem cells are undifferentiated.

        • by pavon (30274)

          2. Adult stem cells are multipotent progenitor cells

          IANAB, but that is not consistant with how I've heard the term used.
          From what I understand, and wikipedia agrees [wikipedia.org] is that the difference between progenitor and stem cells is whether they can divide indefinitely. The pecking order of how differentiated a cell is is like so:

          Embryonic Stem Cells (pluripotent)
          Adult/Somatic Stem Cells (multipotent)
          Progenitor Cells (can be multipotent or unipotent)
          Fully Differentiated Cells.

          I've seen some variation in whether people call both adult stem cells and multipotent proge

    • The article doesn't go into very much detail on what the stem cells really were or how the were produced, so I assume what they refer to as "stem cells" are really multipotent stem cells (or so-called progenitor cells), rather than the pluripotent stem cells that are obtained from the embryo and that can differentiate into any adult tissue. Multipotent stem cells are found in many regenenerating tissues, such as epithelia and bone marrow, but it should be noted that they are not stem cells in the sense that they would retain the ability to differentiate into any cell type.M

      I don't know what most of those words mean, but judging from TFS where it says that the stem cells came from each subject's good eye, I'd say you're right, they aren't embryonic stem cells ;-)

  • I'm THRILLED by this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xaedalus (1192463) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `syladeaX'> on Thursday June 04, 2009 @05:00PM (#28215627)
    I had Lasik done when I was 20, back in the late 90s. Six good years of eyesight later, I started to develop an abnormality in my right now. Now, in my early thirties, I've been diagnosed with keratoconus in my right eye, and I might possibly have it in my left. While Lasik doesn't explicitly cause keratoconus, we also didn't know back in the 90's that some people might have corneas with hidden defects that might not take too well to a laser shaving off a couple of layers. So if they can come up with a way to take stem cells and create whole new corneas to replace damaged ones, then I for one will be anxiously awaiting the day when it becomes available in the United States (about ten years from now most likely, given the FDA's restrictions). I'd like to have normal eyes again, and not worry about one day having to undergo a corneal transplant. So this is AWESOME that they can do that. More power to stem cell research!!!!
    • by Acer500 (846698)
      Indeed, sounds promising

      A bit offtopic, I use glasses right now (myopia, -7 diopters IIRC) and several people have asked me why I haven't had surgery yet.. I don't really think surgery would change my life all that much, do you think your benefits outweighted the (possible, in your case real) dangers?

      BTW I do sports with sports glasses - think Kareem, it's annoying at night after I took off my glasses, but not much else.

      Good luck with the keratoconus.
    • I'd probably kill myself if I went blind.

      And I'd probably have a couple of failed attempts since, you know, I'd be fucking blind.

    • Six good years of eyesight later, I started to develop an abnormality in my right now. Now, in my early thirties, I've been diagnosed with keratoconus in my right eye, and I might possibly have it in my left.

      "I never should have had that trendy laser surgery. It was great at first but, you know, at the ten-year mark your eyes fall out."

      Damn, who knew that Ned Flanders was right! [snpp.com]

  • Any numbers? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Inexpensive? That's a very relative term..

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

Working...