Researchers have identified a way to enhance re-growth of human stem cell in the first known examples of constructing a tissue from an adult-derived human stem cell. A certain molecule called ABCB5 that acts as a marker for hard-to-find limbal stem cells was used in the identification process.
The limbal stem cells live in the eye’s basal limbal epithelium or limbus, and help maintain and regenerate corneal tissue. Their loss due to injury or disease is one of the leading causes of blindness. Researchers were able to use antibodies detecting ABCB5 to zero in on the stem cells in tissues from deceased human donors and use them to re-grow anatomically correct, fully functional human corneas in mice.
Bruce Ksander from Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in the U.S. said, “Limbal stem cells are very rare, and successful transplants are dependent on these rare cells”. These findings will not make it easier for one to restore the corneal surface. It is a very good example of basic research moving really fast to a translational application.
With the help of a mouse model, the researchers found that ABCB5 also occurs in limbal stem cells and is required for the maintenance and survival and also for corneal development as well as repair. Mice lacking a functioning ABCB5 gene had lost their populations of limbal stem cells and their corneas healed poorly after an injury.
The research provides promise to victims of fire, chemical injury and others along with damaging eye diseases.
Article source: business standard
Image source: Getty
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