New Limbal Transplantation Technique Used To Treat Blindness Caused by Burns

March 8, 2012

Ocular burns cause blindness by permanently damaging the limbal stem cells found in the eye, which causes loss in corneal transparency. In such cases, stem cells are harvested from the healthy eye and transplanted to the damaged eye. There are currently two techniques.

One is to directly transplant the stem cells to the damaged eye. This technique, known as CLAU (conjunctival limbal autografting), involves removing almost 50 per cent of the limbus (6 mm to 8 mm length of the limbus) from the healthy eye (which may permanently damage it).

The alternative technique — cultivated limbal epithelial transplantation (CLET) — is to remove a smaller portion (2 mm by 2 mm) of the limbus containing the stem cells and increase (expand) the cells in the laboratory and then transplant them to the damaged eye.

The January 2012 issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology reported on the results of a new novel surgical technique of limbal transplantation, which combines the benefits of existing techniques while avoiding their difficulties. Called SLET (simplified technique of limbal transplantation), the technique involves removing only a small portion of the limbus tissue from the healthy eye (as in the case of CLET), but the stem cell expansion takes place not in the lab but in the damaged eye itself. The procedure is cheaper and there is less risk of contamination (since the expansion does not take place in a lab).

Click here to read the abstract.

Click here to read a more detailed discussion of the new SLET technique in The Hindu

 

 

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