The researchers at several Harvard-affiliated institutions in Boston determined through research and trials that mice are deficient in a gene called ABCB5, which serves as a marker for the presence of limbal stem cells. By using transplants of ABCB5-positive limbal stem cells from humans, doctors were able to restore the corneas of the mice in their trials.
This new method of restoring corneal tissue may help to restore the vision of many patients who have suffered corneal damage. “This finding will now make it much easier to restore the corneal surface,” said Dr. Bruce Ksander, associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. “It’s a very good example of basic research moving quickly to a translational application.”