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New stem cell technique offers hope for those with corneal damage

September 1, 2020
Illustration of eye

Harvard Medical School surgeons at Massachusetts Eye and Ear have replaced the ocular surface of four patients who each experienced chemical burns to one eye. The technique, cultivated autologous limbal epithelial cell transplantation (CALEC), uses stem cells taken from a patient’s healthy eye. These four cases are part of an ongoing clinical trial supported by the National Eye Institute and represent the first procedures of their kind to occur in the United States.

The clinical trial represents the first human study of a stem cell therapy to be funded by the National Eye Institute. Pretrial work was also funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s initiative PACT.

A Cutting-Edge Treatment for Cornea Damage

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Your cornea — the clear, protective layer of the eye — helps you focus your vision. Damage to the cornea can cause cloudy vision. But NEI-funded researchers are testing a new treatment to help people with cornea damage see clearly again. Learn more about this groundbreaking research from NEI.