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Two patients get eye stem cells transplanted to restore sight

image captionDamage to the cornea can impair vision

Two people have had stem cells transplanted into their eyes as part of a clinical trial to restore their sight.

The technique has been developed by Scottish specialists to reverse corneal blindness, and it is believed to be the first treatment of its kind in the UK.

Both have corneal blindness, and until now the only treatment was a transplant of cornea tissue from an organ donor.

Sylvia Paton from Edinburgh was the first person to have the transplant.

It will be several months before doctors will know to what extent the procedure has worked.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "This pioneering new treatment could potentially restore sight and improve the lives of many patients, and it is vital that we continue to invest in innovative projects such as this one.

"Sylvia is a very real example of how corneal blindness can have a dramatic impact and this trial could potentially transform her life".

She added: "If it proves to be successful, we could see many more people benefit as a result.

The procedure - corneal epithelial stem cell transplantation - represents one of the first of a new generation of regenerative therapies.

Medical professionals believe these therapies could transform medicine over the coming decades.

The study which is funded jointly by the UK Stem Cell Foundation and Scottish Enterprise in partnership with the Chief Scientist Office (CSO).

The donor stem cells have been grown by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) and the trial is being run by SNBTS together with NHS Lothian and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

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