Picking stem cells from a patient’s body, sending it to a sophisticated laboratory to culture a tissue and then implanting it are passé.

A team of doctors at L.V. Prasad Eye Institute has used the tea bag or sprinkler approach to regenerate stem cells. The organisation has developed a lab-free technique that could be available off-the-shelf. This allows eye surgeons with usual facilities to perform the procedure.

The team, led by Dr Virender Singh Sangwan, used this technique to treat those who suffered chemical injuries, resulting in bleeding in the cornea.

“Instead of sending stem cells to the lab for culture, the doctor picked the required number of stem cells around the cornea and sprinkled on the damaged area and then put a contact lens. In 15 days, he sees development of a good layer in the place of injured area,” Prof. Balasubramanian, Head of Research at LVPEI, said.

A winner of the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar prize, Dr Sangwan said he had conducted the procedure on about 25 patients with good results. This had been published in international scientific magazines.

He is now in the process of developing tools to help doctors.

Leber Congenital Amaurosis

Children down with the rare ocular disorders that result in gradual loss of sight can hope for a cure. Doctors are working on a gene therapy to correct this problem caused by consanguineous marriages.

Though this therapy is in vogue abroad, LVPEI says it is the first centre to carry out research on this procedure. Technically called LCA or Leber Congenital Amaurosis, doctors would refer patients to a gene analysis after studying them for indications.

Blurred vision or tunnelling of vision are some of the symptoms. “We will look for a wrong gene and go for removal of the wrong gene or adding a new one,” Prof. Balasubramanian, Head of Research of LVPEI, said.

He, however, said it would take 1-2 years for the therapy to be available for patients. He was addressing the media, along with the founder-Chair of LVPEI, Dr Gullapalli N Rao, to mark 25th anniversary of the institute.