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Russell Turnbull with Dr Francisco Figueiredo   (Source: BBC News)
Patient spared from blindness by cutting edge treatment

There are many methods that promise to help save or restore vision in patients with damaged eyes.  While high-tech solutions like electronic eyeballs may one day provide vision equal to or better than their biological equivalents, for now stem cells remain one of the most promising therapy approaches.

Russell Turnbull, a resident of Consett, County Durham UK, was enjoying a night out in 1994 in Newcastle when a fight broke out on the bus he was traveling.  Mr. Turnbull tried to be a good samaritan and intervene.  He was instead assaulted by one of the combatants splashing ammonia in his right eye.  The chemical damaged his cornea, inducing Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency (LSCD).

He describes, "I was in agony instantly, my eye was clamped shut.  I went home and my mum tried to wash out the chemical and then I went to hospital.  I was in hospital for two weeks and eventually I was able to open the eye again."

LSCD, which affects mostly younger patients, is a painful blinding disease that requires costly frequent hospitalizations and clinical treatment.  Recalls Mr. Turnbull, "It was like looking through scratched Perspex. My eye was sensitive to light, it was constantly watering. I was unable to drive as any bright light would cause me pain."

Researchers at North East England Stem Cell Institute cured Mr. Turnbull of the disorder using stem cells.  The procedure involved extracting stem cells from the good eye, culturing them, and then implanting them in the damaged eye.  Mr. Turnbull was among eight patients to receive the treatment.

Dr Francisco Figueiredo, a consultant eye surgeon, that led the project, describes, "Corneal cloudiness has been estimated to cause blindness in eight million people world wide each year. This new treatment will alleviate patient suffering and remove the need for long term multiple medications as well as returning the patient to functional and social independence."

The treatment has slowly restored Mr. Turbull's vision to normal.  He comments, "I can't thank the staff at the RVI (Royal Victoria Infirmary) enough. This has transformed my life, my eye is almost as good as it was before the accident. I'm working, I can go jet-skiing again and I also ride horses. I have my life back thanks to the operation."

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Outcomes based medical care
By goz314 on 12/23/2009 12:12:07 PM , Rating: 4
What! A positive outcome from a cutting edge treatment administered through the NHS, a single payer, nationalized health care system? It's an absolute scandal.

I thought socialized medical care was supposed to be absolutely arcane and essentially worthless. I guess I was wrong. Psst... don't tell the Republicans.

I feel somehow cheated for spending 10s of thousands a year in insurance premiums and co-pays for mediocre care at best in the United States.

RE: Outcomes based medical care
By joshuaheard on 12/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: Outcomes based medical care
By goz314 on 12/23/2009 1:53:31 PM , Rating: 4
And who, or more specifically what do you think subsidizes the Newcastle Universities, the Newcastle Hospitals (which is part of the NHS directly), and the other costs of supporting such a collaboration?

Answer: The general taxpaying populace of the United Kingdom via the National Health Service.

RE: Outcomes based medical care
By joshuaheard on 12/24/2009 10:59:21 AM , Rating: 2
They give them some money, but the breakthroughs are only accomplished by going outside government.

RE: Outcomes based medical care
By BPB on 12/23/2009 2:15:37 PM , Rating: 1
Wow, wouldn't it be great if people here used they gray matter? This is EXACTLY what Republicans have encouraged. To say otherwise is simply a lie. Mind you, I can sincerely say I am a registered independant (unafilliated in my state), so I have no dog in that fight. But the reality is the GOP has been saying for years that this was the route to follow. Also, George Bush did not ban stem cell research, not even embryonic, he simply limited the federal government's involvement. I look at it this way, if embryonic research has anywhere near the chance to make the cripled man walk and the blind man see that Al Gore et all say (Obama too!), then investment money would be flooding the industry. Greedy people are always hungry for more money, and if they aren't seeing it as worthwhile, it probably isn't. I reckon that's the capitalist in me speaking.

RE: Outcomes based medical care
By adiposity on 12/23/2009 2:17:56 PM , Rating: 3
This is EXACTLY what Republicans have encouraged.

What is?

RE: Outcomes based medical care
By BPB on 12/23/2009 2:44:10 PM , Rating: 3
This type of research and care. Adult stem cell research, that is.

RE: Outcomes based medical care
By kaoken on 12/23/2009 3:22:46 PM , Rating: 1
"Also, George Bush did not ban stem cell research, not even embryonic, he simply limited the federal government's involvement."

That is some serious tunnel vision reading of the GOP. Bush cut funding to stem cell research and Obama recently resumed funding.

Also GOPs don't want health care reform because that would be too much government.

RE: Outcomes based medical care
By BPB on 12/23/2009 3:26:33 PM , Rating: 4
Do you really think there are people who want nothing to change regarding health care insurance in this country? I don't know of a single person who thinks the current way the industry functions is good. But I know lots, including my doctor, who don't like the current solution that is on the table. But you go on living life as though one side in politics is wonderful, the other evil. The rest, like myself, will keep a critical eye on both parties.

RE: Outcomes based medical care
By Fenixgoon on 12/24/2009 1:24:10 AM , Rating: 2
You realize that for 23 of the past 30 years, researchers from the US have won or shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine? Not that our health care system doesn't need fixing, but our medical technology is first rate. Just like the $600 dollar video cards here on DT/AT, first adopters always pay the highest price (and our lifestyle choices don't exactly help medical costs either)

And total, we have the most Nobel Prize winners period (320) if wikipedia is to be believed (granted that includes things like "peace").

RE: Outcomes based medical care
By rcc on 12/24/2009 4:40:46 PM , Rating: 1
Perhaps the world is all black and white for you, but not for everyone.

This is no doubt a great accomplishment. On the flip side, British NHS bumbling shortened my father's life substantially. But hey, he was a Republican, so I guess it was all right, eh?

RE: Outcomes based medical care
By weskurtz0081 on 12/25/2009 1:36:02 AM , Rating: 2
Please, in detail, explain to me what the problems are with the HC system in the US, what the causes of those problems are, and how the tax payer footing the bill will somehow alleviate those problems. And, if changing how it's paid for isn't what will fix the problems, then what (in the current bill) will fix those problems?

Also, if the problems were fixed (I will leave the interpretation of what the actual problems are up to you, and chime back in later as I see fit), would the current system in the US (insurance for working Americans and government programs for disabled and elderly) be affordable and work just fine?

Crimes Against Humanity
By SiliconAddict on 12/23/2009 6:48:30 PM , Rating: 1
Bush's lack of supporting research in this field of medicine, because its what his Fundi handlers told him to do, should be considered a crime against humanity. We will never know what 8 years of research could have produced. Bastard.

RE: Crimes Against Humanity
By trsme56 on 12/23/2009 7:05:06 PM , Rating: 3
When are you guys going to give up on the Bush-bashing? He was the first US president to allow any federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (which this isn't).
Even if this guy was on public assistance(Medicaid)in the States, he would have had his vision restored years ago under our "evil" best-in-the-world system. Maybe this kind of story in the UK makes people feel better about their NHS system that severely limits access to even yesterday's "cutting edge" treatments.

RE: Crimes Against Humanity
By Solandri on 12/24/2009 4:49:58 PM , Rating: 4
Bush's detractors believed him to be an anti-science troglodyte, so they assume he cut science spending and repeatedly point to stem cell research and his killing the superconducting super collider as "proof".

In fact, quite the opposite is true. Bush increased federal spending in scientific research and development to the highest it's been in 30 years. In inflation-adjusted dollars, Bush increased science funding by nearly 50%. As a percent of GDP, Bush reversed a general downward trend in federal spending for science research over the last 30 years.

The bulk of Bush's increases were for medical research via the National Institute of Health. It more than doubled under Bush. If you want to call cutting federal science research a crime against humanity, you should be going after Clinton. The biggest cuts and lowest point in federal science funding happened on his watch.

RE: Crimes Against Humanity
By Cr0nJ0b on 12/25/2009 3:56:55 PM , Rating: 2
This is why I hate the republicans...They are all spend spend spend. Bush was out there increasing government and spending like I mad man. The GOP needs to learn to be more fiscally conservative. We need less government not more!

RE: Crimes Against Humanity
By William Gaatjes on 12/25/2009 5:01:38 PM , Rating: 2
The issue is not who spends more money, Bush or Obama. It is where that money ends up with. + costs baby...

You can see it everywhere, for example privatizing does not has to be a bad thing, but for some reason every time a government system is privatized it ends up being more efficient while costs within a few years have increased more then when it was not "optimized". The question is where goes the money. I am not writing that social facilities are the answer to everything, i am just writing
that sometimes privatized facilities are better while sometimes social facilities are better. And sometimes a combination of both is the best solution.
But the main question is where has the money gone too ?
I have up to day the strong impression that a lot of bush funders have made a lot of money and even today make a lot of money. I am not saying this will not be the case with democrats. Because greed is not a political view. But the main question is where did the money go to and was there not payed to much. The answer to the last question is a definite yes.

After doing more and more historical research since before WW1 i am convinced that the USA has some great principles and systems. However , the US from back then is not the US of today. And a narrow minded view is not that handy either. For example, it was Stalin that turned Moscow back in the days to a modern city. But all that modern technology was paid for over the backs of millions of people forced to slave labour. The Russian people in Moscow loved Stalin. The Ukrainian people hated him for murdering their families.

alternative to lasek/lasik?
By inperfectdarkness on 12/23/2009 11:32:16 AM , Rating: 3
seriously...if this can repair/reshape the cornea...i think i'd prefer it to laser surgery.

RE: alternative to lasek/lasik?
By chagrinnin on 12/23/2009 1:17:46 PM , Rating: 5
Ditto. I'd also prefer this to a tooth in the eye. :P

RE: alternative to lasek/lasik?
By kattanna on 12/28/2009 10:37:42 AM , Rating: 2
agreed. that was kinda creepy

also, imagine having to walk around with your mouth gaping open so you could see

Limbal Stem Cell Restoration
By trsme56 on 12/23/2009 6:38:42 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry guys. As a board-certified US ophthalmologist, this type of therapy in various forms has been done for years in the USA, commonly using amniotic membrane grafts.

RE: Limbal Stem Cell Restoration
By JohnnyCNote on 12/24/2009 7:38:15 AM , Rating: 2
As a board-certified US ophthalmologist, this type of therapy in various forms has been done for years in the USA, commonly using amniotic membrane grafts.

Would you know if this therapy would be useful in the treatment of corneal trauma? I was attacked by 4 youths with clubs in '81. They broke my left glasses lenses (glass lenses, natch), forcing fragments into my left eye.

I've had 2 grafts, stage 2 glaucoma, and numerous other surgeries. So the 2nd part of my question relates to the usefulness of this therapy in retinal trauma.

If nothing else, I've become quite familiar with the anatomy of the eye and ophthalmological terminology. I've had to help more than a couple of interns use the slit lamp . . .

Not what i expected
By sgtdisturbed47 on 12/23/2009 11:23:22 AM , Rating: 2
I was expecting to hear something more along the lines of restoring sight to someone who had more damage than that or maybe a degenerative disease.

By VenomSymbiote on 12/23/2009 11:40:52 AM , Rating: 1
"The chemical damaged his cornea, inducing Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency (LSCD)."

"LCSD, which affects mostly younger patients,"

RE: Typo
By Drag0nFire on 12/23/2009 12:55:50 PM , Rating: 1
Jason, do you even try to proofread the articles you publish? I would think professional pride would prevent you from repeatedly releasing articles with elementary errors such as these.

By HolgerDK on 12/24/2009 8:47:23 AM , Rating: 2
Score for science :)

By tammyyy on 12/25/2009 4:05:00 AM , Rating: 2
Of course it will damage your vision. When you are trying to read in the dark, you are overworking the optic nerve in the back of your eyes and that will lead to poor focus which will require corective lense to re-focus your vision.

By Lazarus Dark on 12/25/2009 8:14:31 AM , Rating: 2
I clicked on the link for this page in my dailytech rss feed and got a pop up window!!! first popup window I've seen in a couple years. I use adblock plus but turn it off for sites I frequent. But I've already been sick of all the adds that come up when you accidentally hover over a certain word. Now dailytech is giving popups??!! I'm afraid I may have to turn abp back on for this site soon...

Take that George W.
By Codeman03xx on 12/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: Take that George W.
By skaaman on 12/23/2009 12:09:49 PM , Rating: 5
Uhhh, not that I disagree with your point of view, but this has nothing to do with the prior administrations embryonic stem cell restrictions. The stem cells in question here were harvested from the patients good eye. Research hasn't been restricted using Adult stem cells.

RE: Take that George W.
By therealnickdanger on 12/23/2009 2:32:31 PM , Rating: 5
Not only that, but it's hard to "blame" only President Bush for this. I'm not sure if you're familiar with how the government works, but the President doesn't actually write the laws. He can veto bills if one comes to his desk, but a veto can be overriden by Congress if there is two-thirds agreement. He's just one of the majority of American citizens who oppose embryonic stem cell research. Even after the democrats took over the House and Senate in 2006 , they STILL couldn't pass legislation. Why? Look around you, to your neighbors, the mass majority still doesn't support it.

Adult stem cell research is perfectly adequate, complies with our laws as is, and offers a morally agreeable alternative.

RE: Take that George W.
By Cypherdude1 on 12/24/2009 12:01:09 AM , Rating: 1
Before you even have the above argument, you should consider that Mr. Turnbull is a UK citizen. This means that he is a patient of the British NHS. Yes, that "horrible socialist system" which the rich-backed Republicans are constantly complaining about. Mr. Turnbull probably didn't even have to pay a dime, or in this case a pence, for his treatment. I doubt very much this would've happened in the USA because the cost of this type of treatment is very expensive. If Mr. Turnbull had been a USA citizen, he probably would not have been cured.

Instead of patching up the USA's system, which is what the Senate is scheduled to do on Christmas Eve, the Democrats should've completely dumped our old system and switched to the British NHS-type system.

RE: Take that George W.
By Graviton on 12/24/2009 4:13:39 PM , Rating: 4
Hmm.. last I checked, patients on this side of the Atlantic don't pay to be part of a research study either.

RE: Take that George W.
By straycat74 on 12/23/2009 12:13:31 PM , Rating: 1
You do understand that the ban was on government funding of EMBRYONIC stem cell research. Adult stem cell research has always been on the table, and produced better results.

RE: Take that George W.
By Smartless on 12/23/2009 1:51:48 PM , Rating: 2
It's all Hack-Man's fault.

You're bustin my balls here.

RE: Take that George W.
By Nimmist on 12/23/2009 5:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
This is precisely what conservatives were saying, the benefits are being seen from adult stem cells, not embryonic.

The news media was often cryptic in their reporting making it difficult to recognize a difference between the two types of stem cells, but I didn’t know of anyone who understood the difference and was still against adult stem cell research.

RE: Take that George W.
By Codeman03xx on 12/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: Take that George W.
By Solandri on 12/24/2009 5:08:03 PM , Rating: 2
I take it then, you have no problems with Josef Mengele's work? Some of the best research on hypothermia during the 20th century came from those Nazi experiments (they wanted to figure out the best way to revive German pilots shot down over the North Sea). Modern medical practitioners have had to struggle with whether to use those Nazi findings to help hypothermia victims here and now. After all, the victims of the Nazis are already dead, why not let their deaths help save lives now?

The point is that just because you can doesn't mean you should. Where exactly the line separating the acceptable from the immoral lies is open for debate. But you can't go around arguing that no such line exists, or that your interpretation is the one and only correct one.

RE: Take that George W.
By skaaman on 12/23/2009 10:58:52 PM , Rating: 2
This is precisely what conservatives were saying, the benefits are being seen from adult stem cells, not embryonic.

Yes, but the problem with that is you then lose the possibilities of the other. It's the old saying, "If your only tool is a hammer then all your problems are nails." I prefer my scientist to have access to all their tools...

RE: Take that George W.
By Noliving on 12/24/2009 12:57:43 AM , Rating: 2
and what exactly are those other possibilities?

RE: Take that George W.
By mmatis on 12/24/2009 11:41:24 AM , Rating: 2
Another lying left-wing POS. Why don't you go suck Barry, or are you tired of waiting in line after Chris and all the other sewage?

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