Lens Regeneration

Thank you for your interest in our research on regenerative approaches to congenital cataract treatment. It is our aim at the Shiley Eye Institute (La Jolla, California) to find new and better ways of treating eye disease. To reach that goal a collaborative research group was created of UC San Diego physician scientists with teams from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou in China.

Our publication in Nature (Lin et al. 2016 Mar 17;531(7594):323-8.)  released in March 2016 entitled “Lens regeneration using endogenous stem cells with gain of visual function” described a study showing that using rabbits and monkey’s own stem cells, functional lens regeneration can be achieved leading to improved visual function. We were also able to show proof of concept in a small group of 12 infants in China. This is an encouraging result in cataract treatment. However it will be a long road to practically utilizing this concept in cataract patients – young or old. The infants who received this stem cell treatment were involved in a small clinical trial. We hope that we can expand these human trials with a much larger number and longer follow-up period therefore this will take time and funding to be done properly.

If your infant/child has a cataract, they generally need treatment quickly. However, currently this stem cell treatment is not an option. We encourage you to see your local pediatric cataract specialist for appropriate diagnosis and treatment as early surgery generally leads to better visual outcomes in the pediatric population. Our research team will be working hard to expand our clinical trial. Until validation of our initial results on stem cell based treatment of cataract had been shown, we would not recommend this treatment to be a therapy for general pediatric or adult patients with cataract.

For updates on our work please fill out our contact request form.

Thank you for your interest!

Kang Zhang MD
David Granet MD
Chris Heichel MD
Shira Robbins MD