Stem Cells Reverse Blindness Caused by Burns

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A recent medical breakthrough using stem cells may restore sight to people blinded by burns.

According to a new Italian study, people blinded or who have suffered severe damage to their eyes due to a burn had their sight restored with transplants of their own stem cells.

The stem cells were taken from an unaffected part of the eye. Scientists then put the cells in an incubator to grow. The damaged cells were then replaced with the new ones.

In 82 of 107 procedures, the treatment worked completely. In 14 others, it was only partially successful.

Patients with superficial damage were able to see again within one to two months. Those with more extensive injuries took several months longer.

"They were incredibly happy. Some said it was a miracle," said one of the study leaders, Graziella Pellegrini of the University of Modena's Center for Regenerative Medicine in Italy. "It was not a miracle. It was simply a technique."

The study, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, involved 106 patients treated between 1998 and 2007.

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