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Fig.1 Anatomy of the eye

(Illustration not to proportions)


We have taken up corneal epithelium to start with because it is one components which is very much affected in our country especially among the socio economically underprivileged due to physical, and chemical injuries and infectious & persistent ulcers.


This is a collaborative project with

Vision Research Foundation Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai.

Approximately 27000 people (2003-04 data) register for corneal transplantation every year in India, but only 2500 or less could receive corneal transplantation, due to lack of adequate donors or healthy corneas. Among the remaining 24500 patients close to 15% suffer from only Corneal epithelial disorder, to whom the outcome of our research would mean a lot with the recovery of their vision.

Cornea has five layers (Fig.2 ; quotes only three layers). The outer most layer is the epithelium which comes in to contact with the atmosphere. Cornea is an avascular (not supplied by blood vessels) component of the eye. Next layer is the stroma, beneath which the inner most endothelium is situated. The Red dot-encircled portion is the junction between the Cornea and the Sclera, which is called the Limbus and in this Limbus, the Corneal epithelial limbal stem cells are present. These stem cells when necessary, multiply and repair the damages of the corneal epithelial cell layer. When there is a damage to this limbus itself (Eg stevens-johnson syndrome) or when the repairing capacity of the limbal stem cells are over come by the disease process (Eg. persistent corneal ulcer), damage to the corneal epithelium results in opacity affecting the vision.

Fig.2 Corneo-Scleral junction; Limbus

(Illustration not to proportions)


::CESBANK:: India's First Corneal Endothelial Stem Cell Bank, an initiative of NCRM


Presently, almost all the publications in the literature report either the usage of 3T3 feeder layers (Mouse fibroblasts) or Human amniotic membrane in culturing the human corneal limbal stem cells. With our technology we have made it possible to culture the human limbal stem cells without using any biological materials either as nutrient feeder layer or as substrate, thus avoiding any human or animal protein in the tissue culture. With these developments we hope in the near future, repairing the corneal epithelial damages of any patient using his/her own health limbal stem cells, by culturing the same without amniotic membrane or feeder layers in the laboratory and applying them on the damaged portion of the eye will be possible.

The treatment of Corneal epithelial diseases using in vitro expanded autologous limbal stem cells taken from the opposite-normal eye of the patient in unilateral limbal diseases will be one of the important work of the CESBANK

Recent publications in this topic

Successful corneal limbal stem cell culture - The Hindu

*"Nichi" stands for Japan and "In" stands for India. This institute started on an Indo-Japan collaboration now has spreaded further with global alliances
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