Treatment viability of stem cells in ophthalmology

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Purpose of reviewAdult ocular stem cells have the potential to restore vision in patients previously deemed incurable. This review summarizes strides in stem cell research and stumbling blocks that must be overcome to enable treatment viability in ophthalmology.Recent findingsStem/progenitor cells located in different regions of the eye are capable of differentiating enabling cell repopulation and tissue regeneration. At present, limbal epithelial stem transplantation is the sole ocular cell-based therapy being implemented into clinical practice. Research performed in animal models gives hope for using similar strategies to treat a wide range of ocular diseases in humans. The essential step toward successful therapeutic exploitation is to unravel regulators that control their cell proliferation and renewal pathways. The recently identified very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSEL-SCs) present in the bone marrow could potentially be harvested for regeneration from cord blood via ex-vivo expansion and differentiation protocolsSummaryAlthough numerous impediments remain, the use of bioengineered stem cells is promising and may epitomize the future for replacement and regeneration of ocular tissues in various previously incurable ocular disorders.

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