Year 3

During the last six months, my laboratory has successfully established a xenobiotic-free and feeder-free culture method to efficiently expand human corneal epithelial stem cells in culture by removing the feeder cells and replacing the fetal bovine serum with human serum. The amount of stem cells produced using this method is comparable to the standard culture method using mouse 3T3 cells as feeder cells and fetal bovine serum. We also have tested the feasibility of using fibrin gel and amniotic membrane as cell carrier and found that amniotic membrane is superior to fibrin as cell carrier. We are establishing an animal model to test the disease modifying effects of these cultivated stem cells. Lastly, we can increase the limbal stem cell expansion efficiency by modulating the Wnt and Notch signaling pathway.