DAVID GRANOVSKY

Posts Tagged ‘CORNEA’

Thomas Gray lived six days, but his life has lasting impact

In ALL ARTICLES, HOPE AND INSPIRATION on March 31, 2015 at 9:47 am

Thomas Gray lived six days, but his life has lasting impact

Sarah Gray reacts to research information about the donated retinas from her son, Thomas, who died at six days old in 2010. Callum, 5, Thomas´ identical twin brother, plays during the visit to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Sarah Gray reacts to research information about the donated retinas from her son, Thomas, who died at six days old in 2010. Callum, 5, Thomas’ identical twin brother, plays during the visit to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Sarah Gray reacts to research information about the donated retinas from her son, Thomas, who died at six days old in 2010. Callum, 5, Thomas´ identical twin brother, plays during the visit to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Gallery: Thomas Gray lived six days, but his life has lasting impact

Michael Vitez, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

When she found out early in her pregnancy that one of her identical twins would die at birth, Sarah Gray began a five-year journey that culminated last week in Philadelphia.

She had to carry the sick baby to term in order to protect his healthy twin. And she also looked into organ and tissue donation.

“Instead of thinking of our son as a victim,” she said, “I started thinking of him as a contributor to research, to science.”

On March 23, 2010, Thomas and Callum Gray were born at Fairfax Hospital in Virginia. Callum, perfect, was five pounds, 10 ounces. Thomas, four pounds, was born without part of his brain. His mother nursed him, diapered him, cradled him.

He died after six days – five years ago on Sunday. Within hours of Thomas’ death, his eyes and liver were recovered and sent – along with umbilical cord blood from him and his brother – to researchers.But that wasn’t the end of it for Sarah Gray.

She often wondered – what became of his eyes, his blood, his liver?

The Grays had received a thank-you letter from the Washington regional transplant organization, telling them their son’s corneas had been sent to the Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston, and his liver and the cord blood to Duke University in North Carolina.

Two years later, on a business trip to Boston, Sarah Gray called the eye institute, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

“I donated my son’s eyes to your lab,” she said on the phone. “Can I come by for a tour?”

The receptionist said she had never had such a request. “I’m not sure who to transfer you to,” she said, “but don’t hang up!”

The next day, Gray met James Zieske, the institute’s senior scientist, who told her “infant eyes are worth their weight in gold,” because, being so young, they have great regenerative properties. Thomas’ corneas were used in a study that could one day help cure corneal blindness.

Thirteen more studies had cited that study. Gray felt a new emotion: pride.

Before leaving, she bought a Harvard T-shirt for Callum, and decided she was going to go with the whole family to North Carolina, where Thomas’ liver and the cord blood had been sent.

Zieske also wrote her: “Your visit helped to remind me that all the eyes we receive are an incredibly generous gift from someone who loved and cared about the person who provided the eyes. I thank you for reminding me of this.”

A few months later in 2012, the Grays went to the Duke Center for Human Genetics in Durham, N.C., where even though the twins were identical, scientists found epigenetic differences in their cord blood, research that could one day help prevent Thomas’ fatal defect, anencephaly.

Sarah Gray bought Callum a Duke T-shirt.

The couple then drove down to the road to visit Cytonet, a biotech company that had used their baby’s liver in a trial to determine the best temperature to freeze liver tissue.

Already in the nonprofit public relations field, Sarah Gray became director of marketing for the American Association of Tissue Banks.

Her mantra has become donate, donate, donate, and not just for transplant, but also for research. Even if nobody asks you – doctors are often uncomfortable when a child is dying – bring it up yourself, she says.

At a conference last summer, by coincidence, Gray learned that the Old Dominion Eye Bank in North Chesterfield, Va., had shipped Thomas’ retinas to Philadelphia.

She couldn’t believe she’d never known this. She immediately wrote to the researcher at the University of Pennsylvania who used the donation in her efforts to cure retinoblastoma, the most common form of eye cancer in children.

Two days later, Gray got a reply from Arupa Ganguly, who runs the lab and is a genetics professor at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

“It is almost impossible to obtain normal retina from a child,” Ganguly wrote. “The sample from Thomas is extremely precious for us.”

Ganguly sent Callum a Penn T-shirt.

They arranged to meet last Monday.

First, Sarah, Ross, and Callum Gray went to the National Disease Research Interchange in Center City, which Sarah Gray calls “the Match.com of science.” The interchange connects hospitals that supply organs and tissue with researchers who request it.

“This seems to have brought you a lot of peace and joy,” Bill Leinweber, the interchange’s president and CEO, told Sarah. “You’ve been such a strong advocate for research and such an eloquent spokesperson for the value of research.”

After a visit there, the Gray family went to Penn to meet Ganguly and tour her lab.

Sarah Gray saw the marbled composition book in which the receipt of retinas was logged on March 30, 2010, the 360th specimen to be received. They became “RES 360,” short for Research 360.

“Is this the log book?” she asked. “Oh, my gosh.”

Gray ran her index finger over the cursive of Jennifer Yutz, the lab manager who recorded the entry.

“Ross, look at this! Med 360!”

Her husband took a look. Callum, then 4, hugged an inflatable Godzilla as tall as he is, a gift from Ganguly, bouncing it on the lab floor.

“Wow,” Sarah Gray continued. “Can I Xerox this?”

“We have a copy for you,” Ganguly said.

Penn also gave the Grays a copy of the Fed Ex packing slip confirming arrival, which Sarah Gray said she would “treasure like a war medal.”

Thomas’ retina tissue is so rare, so precious, Ganguly and her team are still saving some of it for future research. Ganguly’s staff led Sarah Gray into the hallway, where a refrigerator, innocuous and ordinary, stood across from student lockers. Yutz unlocked it.

Inside were hundreds of 1.5 milliliter tubes – smaller than cigarette filters.

Yutz pointed to two.

“There it is,” Yutz said.

“Oh my gosh!” Gray said. She couldn’t touch them. The tubes were frozen at minus-80 degrees centigrade (minus-112 Fahrenheit).

“It’s the RNA isolated from the retina tissue,” Yutz said.

Call it what you will, that was a piece of Thomas Gray, her son.

Ross Gray has long supported his wife’s journey.

“It helped her get over the loss,” he said. “It was part of the healing process, seeing that there’s still research going on five years after. His life was worthwhile. He’s brought a lot of good to the world.”

“The way I see it,” Sarah Gray said, “our son got into Harvard, Duke, and Penn. He has a job. He is relevant to the world. I only hope my life can be as relevant.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/health/20150329_Thomas_Gray_lived_six_days__but_his_life_has_lasting_impact.html#ASIBfjvkMHBMos7Y.99

NOW YOU DON’T SEE IT- NOW YOU DO

In ALL ARTICLES, SCIENCE & STEM CELLS on July 10, 2014 at 9:39 am

Now You Don’t See it- Now You Do
Author: Sarah Hoffman

660_Mans_Eye.jpg

“Boston researchers have successfully regrown human corneal tissue – a feat that could potentially restore vision in the blind.

The achievement also marks one of the first times that scientists have constructed tissue using adult-derived human stem cells.-Researchers Regrow Corneas Using Adult Human Stem Cells’. FoxNews.com

Researchers recently made great strides in the field of regrowing human tissue– this time regrowing a human cornea using adult stem cells. This is an amazing feat. They discovered that not only is it possible to regrow a cornea using cells from the functioning eye of someone who is blind in only one eye, but they can also transplant cells from a donor and regrow that way. They tested all this on mice, but used human adult stem cells. This is pretty darn cool.

And why is this possible now? Well the original hold up was their inability to harvest a specific molecule called ABCB5, which is necessary when growing corneal tissue. These researchers discovered that a high concentration of these molecules can be found in the eyes limbus (basically the white part of your eye), which in hindsight makes perfect sense. Unfortunately these cells die when the eye goes blind, but people suffering from blindness have one good eye full of these little miracle-workers. And those with blindness in both eyes can receive a transplant, though they may need immune-suppression.

These leaves only one obvious question to be answered– do these mice see as mice see? Or do they now see as us humans do? Philosophical input is welcome…

MAN’S VISION RESTORED BY STEM CELLS

In STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS, VICTORIES & SUCCESS STORIES on January 1, 2013 at 9:15 am

stem-cell-transplant-eye

A year ago, Canadian Taylor Binns was slowly going blind after developing a rare and painful eye disorder that affected his corneas. Today, he’s driving, reading and living a normal life because of a revolutionary stem-cell treatment completed by a team of doctors at Toronto Western Hospital.

-DG

 

While on humanitarian work in Haiti, Binns developed intense eye pain and increasingly blurry vision. Over the next two years, Binns slowly went legally blind, with his doctors not being able to figure out the problem. He could no longer drive or read books.  Doctors diagnosed him with a rare disease called corneal limbal stem cell deficiency, which was causing normal cells on Binns’ corneas to be replaced with scar tissue, leading to painful ulcers that clouded his vision.  A variety of things can cause the condition, including chemical and thermal burns to the corneas, microbial infections and wearing daily contact lenses for too long without properly disinfecting them can all lead to the disease.

The doctors proposed a limbal stem cell transplant. The limbus is the border between the cornea and the whites of the eye, where the eye creates new epithelial cells. Since Binns’ limbus was damaged, doctors hoped that giving him healthy limbal cells from a donor would cause healthy new cells to grow over the surface.  Binns needed a healthy match, which came from his sister. Healthy stem cells were taken from her eyes and stitched onto the surface of Binns’ eyes. Within a month, he was back to 20/40 vision.  At his last visit, he had 20/20 vision in one eye and 20/40 in the other.

Researchers are working on using stem cells from deceased donors and using stem cells from the patient’s own eyes. This would require lab work to get the cells to multiply, but patients would be able to skip using anti-rejection drugs. This was the first time this treatment was done in Canada and there are several centers in the USA where this treatment is available.

http://scitechdaily.com/stem-cells-help-restore-a-mans-vision/

NEW STEM CELL THERAPY TO REPAIR EYESIGHT

In STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on December 7, 2012 at 9:00 am

A team of engineers at the University of Sheffield have developed a new approach to treating humans who have sustained damage to the cornea.  The procedure entails grafting a biodegradeable disc, filled with stem cells, to the host’s cornea.  “The aim is to effect the natural repair of eyes damaged by accident or disease, enabling millions of people across the world to retain – or even regain – their sight.”

-DG

 

In research published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia, the team describes a new method for producing membranes to help in the grafting of stem cells onto the eye, mimicking structural features of the eye itself. The technology has been designed to treat damage to the cornea, the transparent layer on the front of the eye, which is one of the major causes of blindness in the world.

Using a combination of techniques known as microstereolithography and electrospinning, the researchers are able to make a disc of biodegradable material which can be fixed over the cornea. The disc is loaded with stem cells which then multiply, allowing the body to heal the eye naturally.

“The disc has an outer ring containing pockets into which stem cells taken from the patient’s healthy eye can be placed,” explains EPSRC Fellow, Dr Ílida Ortega Asencio, from Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering. “The material across the centre of the disc is thinner than the ring, so it will biodegrade more quickly allowing the stem cells to proliferate across the surface of the eye to repair the cornea.”

A key feature of the disc is that it contains niches or pockets to house and protect the stem cells, mirroring niches found around the rim of a healthy cornea. Standard treatments for corneal blindness are corneal transplants or grafting stem cells onto the eye using donor human amniotic membrane as a temporary carrier to deliver these cells to the eye. For some patients, the treatment can fail after a few years as the repaired eyes do not retain these stem cells, which are required to carry out on-going repair of the cornea. Without this constant repair, thick white scar tissue forms across the cornea causing partial or complete sight loss. The researchers have designed the small pockets they have built into the membrane to help cells to group together and act as a useful reservoir of daughter cells so that a healthy population of stem cells can be retained in the eye.

“Laboratory tests have shown that the membranes will support cell growth, so the next stage is to trial this in patients in India, working with our colleagues in the LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad,” says Professor Sheila MacNeil. “One advantage of our design is that we have made the disc from materials already in use as biodegradable sutures in the eye so we know they won’t cause a problem in the body. This means that, subject to the necessary safety studies and approval from Indian Regulatory Authorities, we should be able to move to early stage clinical trials fairly quickly.”

Treating corneal blindness is a particularly pressing problem in the developing world, where there are high instances of chemical or accidental damage to the eye but complex treatments such as transplants or amniotic membrane grafts are not available to a large part of the population.

The technique has relevance in more developed countries such as the UK and US as well, according to Dr Frederick Claeyssens. “The current treatments for corneal blindness use donor tissue to deliver the cultured cells which means that you need a tissue bank. But not everyone has access to banked tissues and it is impossible to completely eliminate all risks of disease transmission with living human tissue,” he says. “By using a synthetic material, it will eliminate some of the risk to patients and be readily available for all surgeons. We also believe that the overall treatment using these discs will not only be better than current treatments, it will be cheaper as well.”

The research is supported by a Welcome Trust Affordable Healthcare for India Award to the University of Sheffield and the LV Prasad Eye Institute, where the work is led by Associate Director and Head of Clinical Research, Dr Virender Sangwan. The work has also been supported through a Research Fellowship for Dr Ortega from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Photo provided by GovEd Communications

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/

STEM CELLS & Scotland | Stem cell eye surgery to be tried

In ALL ARTICLES, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on February 17, 2009 at 10:32 pm
STEM CELL

STEM CELL

The procedure will transplant cells onto the cornea

A new surgical treatment offering hope to patients with corneal blindness is to be trialled in Scotland.

Doctors in Edinburgh and Glasgow will work together using an innovative technique involving adult stem cells.

About 20 patients will take part in the initial tests, using cells cultivated before being transplanted onto the surface of the cornea.

Millions of people worldwide suffer from corneal blindness, 80% of whom are elderly.

Stem cells are a source of great scientific interest as a result of their ability to renew and multiply indefinitely, potentially regenerating entire organs from only a few cells.

On a larger scale, it’s a significant problem

Prof Bal Dhillon

Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion

Unlike the more controversial embryonic stem cell research, the technique takes stem cells from dead adult donors.

The trial is being led by Prof Bal Dhillon at the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh, working with the Gartnavel General Hospital in Glasgow.

Prof Dhillon said: “This study is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and it is exciting to be involved in such groundbreaking work.

“I probably see two or three new cases of corneal disease every month. On a larger scale, it’s a significant problem.”

The trial will hope to emulate the success of a similar study in the US in September last year.

In trials at the University of Pennsylvania, subjects with inherited blindness experienced dramatic improvements in vision after a corrective gene was injected into the eye.

via BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | Stem cell eye surgery to be tried.

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