Restoring the cornea from limbal stem cells

Written by Regenerative Medicine

Free to access editorial from the January Regenerative Medicine issue by Markus Frank and Natasha Frank

“…in light of the result that ABCB5 helps to amplify a PAX6-positive limbal stem cell population…it will now be important to test whether ABCB5 selection could also enhance the conversion of skin epithelial stem cells to corneal epithelial stem cells.”

Corneal disease due to limbal stem cell (LSC) deficiency (LSCD) is a major cause of blind-ness worldwide. Recently, the ATP-binding cassette transporter ABCB5 was shown to be required for normal LSC function in corneal development and repair. Moreover, ABCB5 was found to serve as a unique molecular marker allowing for prospective isolation of pure LSC populations from human tissue with the exclusive capacity to fully restore the cornea in preclinical models of LSC deficiency. These results and additional recent advances in this field suggest that therapeutic use of molecularly defined corneal epithelial stem cell populations derived from limbus or skin might optimize chances for successful clinical transplants.

by Markus Frank and Natasha Frank

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