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Cure for blindness

Fariha Marjia
Cure for blindness

Scientists have found a cure for BLINDNESS, called the 'Living lens'. It is grown in a lab, and then transplanted into a patient’s eyes to restore sight. Scientists have discovered a method for generating several key types of eye tissue.

Human stem cells need several weeks to grow spontaneously and form four layers. Each one of those layers has a different function, in order to mimic the eye development and giving sight. Earlier research has proved that specific cell types such as those in the retina or the cornea of the eye, can as a matter of fact, be created in a laboratory from pluripotent stem cells. This is the first time in history, when all the elements; multiple cell lineages, lens, cornea, and conjunctiva, has been successfully generated.

Researchers teamed up from Cardiff University and Osaka University in Japan, showing how the corneal epithelial cells can be cultivated and transplanted into the eyes of blind rabbits to surgically repair the front of the eye.

Study co-author Professor Andrew Quantock said in an interview, “Our work not only holds potential for developing cells for treatment of other areas of the eye, but could set the stage for future human clinical trials of anterior eye transplantation to restore visual function.”

However, the research has yet to go for human trials. Thus, it could be years before the research can be profitable for humans as well. According to the National Health Service (NHS), around 4,000 corneal grafts are performed annually. These alone, depend on human organ donors. If the research proves to be successful, it will be revolutionary in the history of medical science.

While there remains a hope for curing blindness, another group of researchers has taken on the task to prevent such blindness from taking hold at the very start. They have developed a new method of removing the congenital cataracts in babies. Therefore, the remaining stem cells re-grow to develop functional lenses.

Progress is being made to treat aged cataracts as well. Commenting on the news Dr Dusko Ilic, Reader in Stem Cell Science, King's College London, said “Both studies are remarkable accomplishments. Using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), Nishida et al are tackling ocular morphogenesis and are pushing limits in terms of what can be done in a laboratory dish. Although potentially translatable in the longer run, these findings are currently falling short of being able to lead to first-in-human trials in the near future, due to costs and safety.”

However cheerful this news might seem to us, it also comes at a very high and cruel price. Peta's Science Policy Adviser, Dr Julia Baines revealed that, “Experimenters at Cardiff University have an appalling record of deliberately blinding animals. Despite receiving more than 21,500 protest e-mails following the revelation that kittens at the university were having their eyelids sewn shut in abysmally cruel experiments, the university is apparently at it again, only this time it's rabbits who are the victims of such crude research. Cardiff supervised the experiment as their partners in Japan surgically blinded the rabbits and injected chemicals into their eyes before killing them and removing their eyes.” 

'If Cardiff University wants to be at the cutting edge of human medicine, then it must set its sights on progressive, non-animal research, including tissue cultures and organs-on-a-chip technology, and leave animals out of it.' 

Doesn’t the human race believe in co-existence, or is it only a question of who is on top of the food chain. Can there be truly no alternative to the torture and cruelty these animals are put through in the name of science? 

We may get our eye sights back some day, but it will be at the cost of uncountable many lives.

August 30, 2016
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