UCLA researchers in the Department of Ophthalmology have developed a novel method to heal corneal scarring using exosomes from immortalized corneal stem cells.
Corneal stromal scarring is the leading cause of corneal blindness, the second most common type of blindness globally. The current options to restore vision are corneal transplantation or treatment with corneal stromal stem cells (CSSC), which release exosomes – vesicles containing various cellular factors – that promote healing to reduce corneal scars. However, neither are easily accessible options. Corneal transplantations suffer from extreme shortage of transplantable cornea tissues. Donor-derived CSSCs have a limited life span and feature different scar-reducing efficiency. In addition to these disadvantages, donor-derived CSSCs often produce inconsistent numbers of exosomes of varying quality. A constant and consistent supply of CSSC-derived exosomes would revolutionize treatment of corneal scarring.
Researchers at UCLA have developed immortalized CSSC lines that produce a constant supply of exosomes that can be added to the scar site. The exosomes from these immortalized CSSC lines were demonstrated to increase the capacity of wound repair, reduce the scar area, and decrease expression of scar-forming genes. These exosomes have consistently high healing efficiency and, because they come for immortalized cell lines, are readily available and scalable for production.
Corneal scarring, Corneal transplantation, Exosome, Stem cell, Immortal cell line