Novel therapeutic approaches for corneal disease
Williams, Keryn Anne
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Congenital and acquired corneal opacities, and diseases of the ocular surface, are blinding conditions that impose physical, psychological, and financial constraints upon the sufferer. In the past, corneal and corneal epithelial stem cell transplantation have been the major treatment for severe corneal and ocular surface disease, respectively, but the sequelae of neovascularization and inflammatory eye disease cause many grafts to undergo irreversible immunological rejection. Furthermore, in the case of corneal dystrophies, the original disease may recur in the graft. New therapeutic options for diseases of the cornea and ocular surface are now being actively explored in experimental animals and in clinical trials. Antibody-based biologics are being tested for their ability to reduce blood and lymphatic vessel ingrowth into the cornea, and to reduce inflammation. Many new biomaterials are being examined for their capacity to transfer drugs and corneal epithelial cell progenitor cells to the ocular surface and anterior segment of the eye. New component-cell corneal transplantation procedures that may reduce the risk of immunological rejection have been developed and are already in clinical practice. Finally, gene therapy is being tested in experimental animals to improve the outcomes of corneal transplantation, and to halt or reverse the pathophysiology of some corneal dystrophies.