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Stem cells on contact lenses may pave the way for new treatments

Australian researchers have discovered how sheets of stem cells grown on contact lenses can repair damaged eyes. The experimental therapy involves transferring tiny strips of adult stem cells from specially designed contact lenses onto the eye. These stem cells can then help rebuild the surface of the cornea. The study involved taking limbal stem cells from the edge of the cornea. These stem cells function naturally to repair the eye. Special contact lenses were then used to grow hundreds of thousands of these stem cells. The contact lenses were then inserted into an eye and left for four days. Over the course of those four days, the cells transferred from the contact lens to the eye. Small human trials of this new therapy are set to begin soon and hopefully will pave the way for effective treatments for caustic or thermal burns and possibly severe inflammation of the eye's surface. The value of this technique is that the stem cells can be taken from the patient's own eyes or if the eyes are severely injured, they can be harvested from donor tissue.*

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