A group of researchers at Osaka University says it has developed a technique to create cells that could form various tissues of the human eye, using human iPS cells, or induced pluripotent stem cells.
The group says it will submit to the university's screening committee before the end of March 2017 a plan to begin a clinical study.
The group, led by Professor Koji Nishida, confirmed that use of a protein called laminin-511 permits the culture of round clusters of cells from iPS cells in about a month.
Each of the clusters has 4 layers containing bunches of cells that could grow into various tissues of the human eye, such as nerves, retina, lens, and cornea.
The group created a corneal sheet with these cells that was transplanted onto an eye of a rabbit. The cornea worked.
The group seeks to apply this technology to create corneal tissues from iPS cells to begin clinical trials for patients suffering corneal loss or deficiency due to injury or disease.
Nishida says conventional cornea transplants could result in rejection by the recipient's immune system, while the number of donors remains low.
He expressed hope to fine-tune the treatment as an alternative that is both safe and effective.