In separate reports this month, two groups of scientists announce they have restored eyesight to patients with previously untreatable corneal damage, using novel tissue bioengineering techniques.
One report, from Dr. Ray Jui-Fang Tsai and colleagues at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and University of Taoyuan, Taiwan, appears in the July 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The Taiwanese team reports success reversing vision loss in six patients. (A copy of this paper is available at http://www.nejm.org/content/2000/0343/0002/0086.asp.)
A concomitant report from Dr. Ivan R. Schwab and Dr. R. Rivkah Isseroff (click here for photo and biographies) of the University of California Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center appears in the July issue of the journal Cornea. For a copy of the news release, click here. Using a slightly different approach that uses corneal tissue from a donor (link to illustration), the Davis group reports their success in restoring vision in 10 patients. (A copy of this paper is available by contacting the UC Davis Health System public affairs office at (916) 734-9040 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
In addition to the Cornea article, Drs. Isseroff and Schwab are authors of an editorial accompanying the Taiwanese study in the New England Journal. In the editorial, Dr. Isseroff, a professor of dermatology who leads a laboratory that engineers skin replacements, and Dr. Schwab, a professor of ophthalmology who specializes in disorders of the cornea, discuss the limitations and potential of tissue bioengineering in ophthalmology and other areas of medicine. (A copy of the editorial is also available at the New England Journal of Medicine Web site.
"The progress with corneal surface replacement [in Taiwan and at UC Davis] indicates É bioengineered products will probably revolutionize the treatment of many epithelial and even visceral diseases," the UC Davis scientists predict in their editorial.
The news release below details the work of Drs. Isseroff and Schwab. Both physicians are available to discuss tissue bioengineering approaches to cornea repair with reporters, along with potential applications of the technology to other body tissues. Interviews with patients who have received stem cell corneal transplants in the UC Davis study are also available to speak with reporters about the benefits of the treatment.
Information for patients interested in the procedure is available at: