Eye Opening Stem Cell Research Shows Potential

The human eye is one of the most complicated parts of the human body. While science has found ways to remove cataracts, transplant corneas and treat glaucoma, they’ve yet to find a solution for blindness caused by damaged retinas – the intricate part of the eye that converts light into a visual image understood by the brain.

New animal-model stem cell research from Johns Hopkins offers a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel to the millions suffering from these diseases across the globe. Common disorders involving the retina include retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes, and age-related macular degeneration. Up to this point, doctors could only monitor their patients’ deteriorating vision without many options to help restore their sight.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins’ Wilmer Eye Institute have potentially figured out a way to repair retinal cells using stem cells found in umbilical cord blood. They were able to safely grow a type of blood vessel-rich tissue and inject it into mice with damaged retinas. No matter where they injected this tissue into the mice, it made its way to the eye – and remarkably – found the damaged retina and repaired the blood vessel structures — basically converting into normal-looking retinal cells.

This breakthrough could be a big step forward in treating the more than one hundred diseases that destroy the retina. Next up – demonstrate the same success in humans.

We’ll keep on eye on it. Sounds promising.



Gina Satta

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Gina Satta is a writer, namer and new mom living in San Francisco. When she isn’t brainstorming brilliant copy, she is either looking for parking, making up new versions of classic nursery rhymes, or eating chocolate. Gina is a paid consultant to CBR.

21 thoughts on “Eye Opening Stem Cell Research Shows Potential

  1. Wow, reading this give me hope. My dad is on his way to the hospital, as I am typing, this to have emergency surgery for a torn retina and macular degeneration disease. I hope that this research is successful in humans. That will give me hope for my future, since I have banked my son’s cord blood.

    1. Hi Debby, Please contact our Genetic Counselors for more information – 888-267-3256. Thank you!

  2. I think this research is great. One member of our family is struggling with retina issues and my great hope is that this research will benefit us. People thought I was crazy when I had my son’s cord blood stored six years ago but research has become so wide spread more people tell me every day they wish they had done it for their child. I constantly encourage women who are pregnant to consider storing their unborn child’s cord blood so they have that peace of mind that our family has.

  3. I have Keratoconus on both of my eyes. I hope that stem cells one day will be able to cure this problem.

  4. Great news! I am very happy to hear this. This means we are on our way to curing many diseases and give today’s babies a very long life.

  5. I have 2 boys with x-linked retinoschesis. My 1 year old had to have emergency surgery on his retina as it was detaching. He now is followed by a retinal specialist and needs glasses and patch therapy. My older sons eyes are not as bad. Does anyone know if this research will help my boys?

    Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Erica, Please contact our Genetic Counselors for more information – 888-267-3256. Thank you!

  6. Wow! This is fantastic information! I have banked my twins’ cord blood. They were both born with a genetic disease called Joubert Syndrome, we didn’t know this when they were born. It potentially effects their eyes, liver, & kidneys. As they haven’t developed any retinal issues as of yet, this still gives my hope that their cord blood will potentially save their vision if it is affected someday.

  7. Fascinating! I banked both my girls cord blood & I wish I had done it for my son who has coloboma’s in both eyes. And is legally blind in his right eye. We continue to learn about his vision as he gets older( he’s 8). Maybe one day is vision can be helped 🙂

  8. Amazing and encouraging research. This kind of thing gives me hope for my situation – I have an autistic child. We’ve banked his younger sister’s cells in the hope that as research advances some sort of therapy or treatment may emerge for him down the road. Thanks CBR.

  9. Thank you for the fantastic job you are doing towards finding a treatment for some retinal diseases.
    My son was born with bilateral Persistant Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous (PHPV) and leuchocoria, 22 years ago. He underwent one open sky vitrectomy on each eye with no positive results. Both his retinas are detached and he is totally blind.
    We´ve stored his brother stem cells cord and we hope that the stem cell reaserchers will one day contemplate his condition and restore his retinas.
    Our prayers go to you all!
    Ligia Verdi

    1. Hi Ligia, the research being done at Johns Hopkins is very exciting! Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. I have had cataracts removed related to steroid use for back problems… I’m not seeing well and have to have a second surgery for secondary cataracts… I’m a nurse and afraid I will lose my eyesight… Are there more treatments for eye diseases ? I saved my grandsons stem cells for a gift at his birth… This is awesome news to hear.. he just celebrated his 11th birthday and I feel that these stem cells will be used in our family… Thanks for the info!!!

    1. Hi Lisa, Please call our genetic counselors for more info on research related to cord blood stem cells: 888-267-3256. Thanks!

  11. Our now 13 year old daughter lost her sight in her right eye when she was 12. After 3 failed surgeries there appeared to be little hope of her ever getting her sight back in this eye. Reading about this research just gave us back some hope that one day she may get her sight back. Honestly, I got chocked up reading about this research.


  12. Our baby is due April 15th. My first thought “Can we afford to do this?” then I study the research. Now I say “We can’t afford NOT TO DO THIS.”
    Please e-mail us the details to help us make this happen…… Thank you in advance for all your efforts.

  13. As somebody whose been wrestling with Retinitis Pigmentosa for 20 years, this is the first sigh of a potential treatment. Now my field of vision is similar to looking at life through a swim mask. I’d be grateful if this process only stopped the progression. I’m looking forward to updates.

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