Laboratory and clinical research in the field of cell therapy applied to ophthalmology is increasing significantly, showing how stem cells can become a new treatment opportunity for patients affected by eye diseases.
At Stanford University, Jeffrey Goldberg, Professor of Ophthalmology at Byers Eye Institute, is working with his team on the application of cell therapy for glaucoma.
When eye pressure increases dramatically, the retinal ganglion cells (RGC) die and, unable to regenerate or be replaced, there is a gradual loss of vision. RGCs play a fundamental role in vision, being responsible for processing and transporting information from the eye to the brain via the optic nerve.
Prof. Goldberg’s research focuses on the protection or regeneration of RGC through the use of stem cells, which can generate a neuroprotective effect that slows down or prevents the degeneration of RGC. Similarly, they can replace lost RGCs and restore neuronal connections between the eye and brain.
Mesenchymal stem cells are in fact able to produce proteins that promote the healing of damaged cells and their property of regeneration and differentiation puts them in a privileged position in the therapeutic field.
An even more striking result was achieved by a team of Italian researchers from the Ophthalmology Unit of the University of Bologna coordinated by Dr. Piera Versura. The scientists have in fact patented a revolutionary eye drops, obtained from a part of the umbilical cord blood, the serum, rich in growth factors whose properties are effective in fighting glaucoma disease thanks to their neuroprotective effect.
«With this biological eyewash – confirms Dr. Versura – we have achieved significant added value through the use of cord blood, administering a drug that is the result of the natural development of a new life. Cord blood is in fact produced in a period of high metabolic demand and could therefore represent a powerful combination of trophic factors, i.e. those substances produced by the body that can ensure the survival of cells and stimulate their growth».
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