Health India; Washington, February 24, 2005
Scientists at Schepens Eye Research Institute in the United States have regenerated a damaged optic nerve from the eye to the brain, sparking hope for sufferers of glaucoma and spinal cord injuries. This achievement, which occurred in laboratory mice and is described in the March 1, 2005 issue of the Journal of Cell Science, holds great promise for victims of diseases that destroy the optic nerve, and for sufferers of central nervous system injuries.
"For us, this is a dream becoming reality," says Dr Dong Feng Chen, lead author of the study, assistant scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute and an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. "This is the closest science has come to regenerating so many nerve fibres over a long distance to reach their targets and to repair a nerve previously considered irreparably damaged."
This work has important implications. "The possibility of restoring sight following optic nerve injuries is tremendous," says Lt Colonel (Retd) Robert C. Read of the Clinical Applications Division at the US Department of Defense's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center. Fifteen per cent of all wartime injuries include the eye and those with optic nerve trauma are the most grave. Today's medicine has little effective treatment to offer and blindness is often the end result. This development might help change that.