Stem Cell for Corneal Disease: Dr Nick Di Girolamo, Univ of New South Wales

We blogged about stem cell treatments for macular degeneration as well as for retina problems, now here’s a video report, courtesy of the University of New South Wales TV (UNSWTV), showing us how researchers from the university were able to use stem cells to restore the sight of patients with blinding corneal disease.

Watch the video below.

We should have blogged about this a few years back since the video was produced in 2009 but ’tis better late than never, eh?

It is worth noting that Australia broadcast network, ABC, awarded its New Invention Award (Winner and People’s Choice) to the people behind this treatment, Dr Nick Di Girolamo & Dr Stephanie Watson.

More details about the Stem Cell For Eye Repair from

A small tissue biopsy is harevested from the fellow healthy eye from a region known to contain stem cells. The biopsy is the size of a pinhead and is harvested using fine forceps and tiny scissors.

A local anaesthetic is administered to the patient during the procedure. This biopsy is then placed on a commonly used therapeutic Contact Lens and immersed in a pink solution containing the patient’s own serum. The serum is the yellow component of the patient’s blood. Serum was used because it is known to contain many nutrients that the stem cells require to grow.

Once the Contact Lens is covered in cells, (and this generally takes 10-days) it is ready to be placed on the patient’s diseased eye. But before doing so, the patient’s ocular surface is gently scraped with a scalpel blade by Dr Watson to remove any abnormal cells.

The Stem Cell laden Contact Lens is next placed onto the patient’s diseased eye and left in place for a further 2 weeks to allow the Stem Cells to transfer from the Contact Lens to the patients cornea. The entire procedure may take 20-30 min and patients can go home within 2-3 hrs and be monitored at regular intervals over the first few months.

This invention was also cited as a finalist in the 2010 UNSW Innovation Awards.

Now, much as we would like to include an update on this corneal treatment procedure four years after it was introduced in 2009, we can’t find any update on the USNW site. We’re particularly interested in how the patients who were reportedly successfully treated using this stem cell therapy are doing now. We do hope to make an update in the future once we come across noteworthy developments about this. Meantime check out the related posts below on stem cells for eye-related conditions.

Stem Cells for Macular Degeneration
Stem Cell for Retina Eye Problems