Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine

Review Article

Ex-vivo ocular surface stem cell therapies: current techniques, applications, hurdles and future directions

Romesh I. Angunawelaa1, Jodhbir S. Mehtaa2a3 and Julie T. Danielsa4 c1

a1 Department of Cornea and External Disease, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, EC1 V 2PD, UK

a2 Singapore National Eye Centre, Singapore

a3 Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore

a4 Department of Ocular Biology and Therapeutics, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, 11-43 Bath Street, London EC1 V 9EL, UK

Abstract

Engineered tissue derived from ocular surface stem cells (SCs) are a cutting edge biotechnology for repair and restoration of severely damaged eyes as a result of ocular surface dysfunction because of SC failure. Ex-vivo SC expansion techniques have advanced significantly since the first patients were treated in the late 1990s. The techniques and clinical reports reviewed here highlight the evolution and successes of these techniques, while also revealing gaps in our understanding of ocular surface and SC biology that drives further research and development in this field. Although hurdles still remain before stem-cell-based therapies are more widely available for patients with devastating ocular surface disease, recent discoveries in the field of mesenchymal SCs and the potential of induced pluripotent SCs heralds a promising future for clinicians and our patients.

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Julie T. Daniels, Department of Ocular Biology and Therapeutics, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, 11-43 Bath Street, London EC1 V 9EL, UK. E-mail: j.daniels@ucl.ac.uk