18 October 2022

Cells for the cornea

SibSMU scientists use cellular technologies to treat eye disease

A team of SibSMU scientists led by Candidate of Medical Sciences, assistant of the Department of Ophthalmology Tatiana Zhigalskaya proposed a new method for the treatment of secondary corneal dystrophy based on cellular technologies. The methodology was tested within the framework of the project "Patterns of inflammatory-reparative reaction in corneal dystrophy of various genesis and principles of their correction using cellular technologies", which became the winner in the competition of scientific and technological projects of young scientists. The selection was carried out at the university within the framework of the development program "Priority 2030".

Secondary corneal dystrophy is a group of diseases based on the gradual development of prolonged inflammation followed by irreversible changes in corneal tissue. Often, the disease occurs under the influence of adverse external factors, after ophthalmological operations and severe inflammation of the eyeball. At the very beginning of development, secondary corneal dystrophy causes very severe pain in the affected eye, a feeling of a "foreign body", fear of light and lacrimation, and then there is a gradual strong decrease in the vision of the diseased eye, sometimes up to loss. The disease often develops in young people with an active lifestyle and can lead to depression, social isolation and disability.

Today, for the treatment of such diseases, ophthalmologists use conservative (eye drops, ointments, anti—inflammatory drugs that improve metabolism in the affected cornea) and operative (keratoplasty - replacement of the affected, cloudy cornea of the diseased eye with a transparent transplant) methods of treatment. The first technique brings only temporary relief, while the disease continues to develop. The second method is associated with the risk of complications during and after surgery. SibSMU scientists have joined the global development of alternative methods for the treatment of corneal dystrophy. 

"The scientific project consists of two parts — experimental and clinical. We have successfully completed the first part of the work, the optimistic data obtained allowed us to proceed to the implementation of the clinical part of the project, which is also nearing completion. In September, our team received a patent of the Russian Federation for an invention for the treatment of corneal pathology by a new method using cellular technologies, confirming the priority of SibSMU in this direction," the author of the project said.

Cellular technologies are actively used in medicine for the treatment of various pathologies, including diseases of the visual organ. The Department of Ophthalmology of SibSMU has been developing and implementing effective methods of treatment based on cellular technologies for the treatment of corneal ulcers, viral keratitis, endothelial-epithelial dystrophy of the cornea and other diseases for more than 15 years.

"As part of the experimental part of the project, we introduced a certain type of cells isolated from animal blood into the thickness of the cornea. Then the features of the affected cornea of the diseased eye were studied in detail. All studies were conducted strictly according to the rules and regulations for working with experimental animals. Thanks to the experiment, we were able to obtain new facts about the peculiarities of the development of corneal dystrophy, necessary for understanding the essence of the disease itself and finding new effective ways to treat it," says Tatiana Alexandrovna.

Having received convincing results about the effectiveness and safety of the developed treatment method, SibSMU scientists have started the clinical part of the project. The study involved patients with the most severe forms of corneal dystrophy who had previously been unsuccessfully treated using various methods. Scientists have found that thanks to the use of a new method based on cellular technologies, the edema of the affected cornea resolves 1.5-2 times faster, and dystrophic manifestations are reduced by 1.2-1.5 times compared to other methods of treatment.

"According to clinical observations, already 3-5 days after the application of the developed method, all patients noted the absence of pain and a feeling of "foreign body" in the affected eye, as well as photophobia and lacrimation. According to the results of the study, a month after treatment, the swelling of the affected cornea decreased by 23%, the vision of the diseased eye improved 6.5 times, and three months later — ten times. The results were stable in all patients treated with the new method for a long period of follow—up," the author of the project summed up.

Employees of the Department of Ophthalmology of SibSMU actively participated in the work on the project: Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, Head of the Department Olga Krivosheina, assistant Mariana Denisko and sixth-year students of the Faculty of Medicine Bermet Bekturova and Ksenia Frolova.

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