Development of Corneal Cell Line Opens Doors for New Research

The human corneal endothelium is the inner layer of cells that make up the corneal surface. This cellular layer is tightly sealed, selectively pumping fluid out of the cornea. These corneal cells may be damaged by disease, surgical complications, or aging, which can result in visual loss or blindness.

When this corneal layer is affected, there are few treatments currently available to heal or restore these cells. For example, with Fuch’s dystrophy, which results in the reduction of cells in this layer, few effective treatments are available and sometimes the only option to restore sight is corneal transplantation. Researchers continue to look for new ways to heal these layers to restore visual clarity to those who experience damage or dysfunction of this corneal surface layer.

Human corneal endothelium cells have been difficult for researchers to study because there are few cellular models. These models have drawbacks for research as the cells do not divide and sources are limited. A discovery at the Schepens Eye Research Institute at Massachusetts Eye and Ear has now made it easier for researchers to focus on this cellular layer. This first-ever model system for the human corneal endothelium has been developed by these scientists. The model is crucial for this type of research as it allows for accurate behavior of the endothelial cellular functions and has shown a high rate of cell division. Researchers will now be able to more easily and reliably study this layer of tissue, which can lead the way toward novel treatments to help restore vision to those who have experienced damage to this corneal surface layer.

We look forward to see what new discoveries arise from this model cell line and hope for a few future with decreased need for corneal transplantation.