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‘Made in India stem cell therapy for blindness’ receives global validation

Hyderabad: An idea that stemmed from an intellectual exchange between Dr Virender Sangwan, director, Srujana Centre for Innovation, Centre for Regenerative Ophthalmology and Clinical Research, L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Hyderabad and Dr Sheila McNeil, professor of regenerative medicine, Linkoping University, Sweden, has been published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology by a group of eight different centres across the globe.

Dr Sayan Basu
Dr Sayan Basu

In 2010, LVPEI moved away from culturing corneal stem cells in a petri-dish in the laboratory to directly culturing and expanding them on the patient’s eye. This ingenuous technique was termed Simple Limbal Epithelial Transplantation (SLET) to contrast it from the radical tissue transplants and complex culture techniques that were the standard of care at that time.

SLET completely eliminates the need for laboratory based processing thereby making it possible to be executed by any well-trained surgeon anywhere. SLET has been adopted by corneal surgeons the world over, including institutions like Harvard and Bascom Palmer in the US. This simple technique reduces cost as well as visits for the patients, according to a statement issued by LVPEI on Thursday.

Dr Sayan Basu, consultant and scientist, cornea and anterior segment services, LVPEI, said, “The real test for any scientist is the validation of his work by his peers and the community at large.”

Dr Virender Singh Sangwan
Dr Virender Singh Sangwan

“Today we are honoured with the two validations — the first being the recent publication in the British Journal of Ophthalmology published by a group of eight different centres across the globe and the second is the long-term outcome of the 125 cases treated at LVPEI Hyderabad by our teams and the corneal surgeons trained here,” added Dr Basu.

A pilot clinical trial was done on a small sample size of 125 patients — 65 adults and 60 children — who developed unilateral limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD) after suffering ocular surface burns and underwent SLET between 2010 and 2014. The results indicated close to 80% success rates. This makes SLET clinically a more effective procedure than all previous techniques including cell cultivation, according to Dr Basu.

Dr Virender Singh Sangwan, director, Srujana Centre for Innovation, Centre for Regenerative Ophthalmology and Clinical Research, LVPEI, said, “True to its name, SLET allows the marvel of stem cell therapy to be easily accessible to anyone who needs it.”

According to Dr Sangwan, SLET has demolished the invisible walls that had made limbal stem cell transplantation an exclusive procedure. Earlier it was practised by only an elite group of ophthalmologists who worked in sophisticated centres with stem cell labs.

Dr Sangwan said that the team at LVPEI has been performing SLET on patients with blinding and unsightly ocular burns and restoring their sight, apart from training cornea surgeons from across the world.

“This significantly decreased the cost and made limbal stem cell transplantation more accessible through SLET,” he added.

L V Prasad Eye Institute is holding an ‘Ocular Surface Workshop’ from March 17-20 in Hyderabad.

The three-day workshop covers Scleral Lens Workshop Wet-Lab, SLET User’s Meeting Live-Surgical Demonstration and Artificial Cornea Symposium.

The session will be attended by James Chodosh, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, US; Guillermo Amescua, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Miami, Florida, US; and Arturo-Ramirez MIranda, Conde de Valenciana, Mexico City, Mexico, according to LVPEI.

One Comment

  1. Rovshan Rovshan Wednesday, March 23, 2016


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