University of California eye researcher Dr. Bill Stell, chair of Vision Quest Conference, said "Research is progressing rapidly in the areas of gene therapy, stem cell research and encapsulated cell technology." He added, "Some types of blindness could be prevented and some vision could be restored to the blind within five, 10 or 15 years". In India Dr. Virendar Sangwan & Dr. Geeta Vemuganti has perfected corneal transplant using cornea created from adult stem cells.
Eye surgeon Virendar Sangwan has perfected a procedure so cutting-edge that most who have tried it have failed. In an operating theater in the central Indian city of Hyderabad, he surgically implants corneas grown in a petri dish from stem cells by his colleague Geeta Vemuganti in patients with damaged eyes. Together they perform about 80 corneal regeneration procedures a year, making the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute where they work one of the most prolific facilities in the world using stem cells to regenerate tissue of any kind.
Sangwan says he had a number of patients with burned eyes who could not be helped with standard corneal transplants from cadavers, so he persuaded Vemuganti to try growing corneas in her lab. "You know how to grow cells, and I know how to do the transplant surgery," Vemuganti recalls him saying. "Why don't we work together?" She smiles and shakes her head. "I had no clue if this was going to work."
Vemuganti's major innovation was developing a platform on which to grow the corneas. First she designed a circular glass tube about the size of a stack of coins. "I had the handyman here cut the glass for me," she says. Then she overlaid the glass with tissue from a human placenta, which is "a good surface to grow the corneas on," she says. After that she placed stem cells in four places around a circle, added a growth medium, and watched the corneas begin to grow. Source: CNN