Corneal cells created from hair cells
Wednesday, December 18 2013 | 00 h 00 min | News
French scientist Daniel Aberdam has successfully restored corneal cells using hair cells.
Thanks to this feat, which took ten years to accomplish, the French Académie des sciences awarded him the 2013 Grand Prix Fondation Générale de Santé for cell therapy and regenerative medicine. Under the direction of Daniel Aberdam, the scientists from the stem cell research lab at Inserm, Paris, took a hair sample to be cultured. They deprogrammed the hair cells and reprogrammed them to grow corneal cells.
Now it’s just a question of seeing whether it’s possible to repair the cornea in certain patients by transplanting these cells, to restore their sight. “If we take hair from a patient and produce cornea cells from that patient, we will see almost no immune rejection,” says Daniel Aberdam. “However, if we take cells from another person, we may see a rejection, but it will be extremely limited, since the cornea is an immune protected site.”
Such a method would go a long way in helping resolve the problem of a lack of corneas. About 42 million people worldwide are on waiting lists for corneal transplants.