Stem cell approach for cataracts challenged

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Science  30 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6345, pp. 1318-1319
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6345.1318

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A team of ophthalmologists and stem cell scientists is advancing a controversial new approach to treating cataracts, the clumping of lens proteins that blurs the vision of about one in six Americans over age 40, plus thousands of infants born every year. Instead of replacing the cloudy lens with a plastic replacement, this technique relies on the capsule's resident stem cell to regrow an entire new lens. At the annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, one of the study's leaders gave an optimistic update on 12 Chinese babies treated in an initial clinical trial, and announced plans to expand the testing to adults. But some pediatric ophthalmologists say that decades-old experiments have already ruled out the possibility of regrowing a clear, functional lens from scratch.