Artificially Grown Corneas Could Be Used for Transplants and Drug, Cosmetic Testing
WebMD News Archive
"The study has a lot of potential, but this technique is not ready for
use at the present time," says David R. Whikehart, PhD, in an interview
seeking an objective assessment of the study.
"Their 'immortalized' cells are expected to grow continuously.
Unfortunately what often develops in such cells are chromosomal
abnormalities," says Whikehart, a professor at the Vision Science Research
Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He doubts whether such cells
could function as normal corneal cells.
"If these cells are, in fact, 'immortalized' they are going to continue
to grow," Whikehart tells WebMD. "Normally, corneal cells ... are
contact inhibited -- they stop growing when they make contact with each other.
If these cells do not stop growing, the result would be a deformed cornea and
H. Dwight Cavanagh, MD, PhD, a corneal surgeon and biologist, questions
whether these particular lab-grown human corneas will be useful for either
toxicity testing or as transplants.
"Their goal is laudable and the study represents a potential
breakthrough, but it should not be ballyhooed as a solution to either the
toxicity problem or the transplant problem," Cavanagh tells WebMD.
Griffith's research was supported by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
Association through the Medical Research Council of Canada and the Natural
Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and from Proctor &
Gamble Co. through the International Program for Animal Alternatives.
- Scientists have developed artificial human corneas that look and function
like real ones.
- The researchers hope that the artificial tissue will one day be used for
transplants or to replace animal testing for drugs and cosmetics.
- Objective commentators say those uses aren't currently possible.