Towards the use of hydrogels in the treatment of limbal stem cell deficiency
To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.drudis.2012.07.012
Corneal blindness caused by limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD) is a prevailing disorder worldwide. Clinical outcomes for LSCD therapy using amniotic membrane (AM) are unpredictable. Hydrogels can eliminate limitations of standard therapy for LSCD, because they present all the advantages of AM (i.e. biocompatibility, inertness and a biodegradable structure) but unlike AM, they are structurally uniform and can be easily manipulated to alter mechanical and physical properties. Hydrogels can be delivered with minimum trauma to the ocular surface and do not require extensive serological screening before clinical application. The hydrogel structure is also amenable to modifications which direct stem cell fate. In this focussed review we highlight hydrogels as biomaterial substrates which may replace and/or complement AM in the treatment of LSCD.