The cornea is an optically clear tissue permitting light transmission into the eye. The stroma is the thickest layer of the cornea and corneal transparency depends upon the organization of the collagen matrix in the stroma which is produced by specialized cells called keratocytes. In corneal scarring the tissue is disorganised or in corneal stromal dystrophy an abnormal material is deposited in the stroma which affects transparency.
We have recently established a new project in collaboration with Professor Julie Daniels, University College London, to establish the methods to make dog corneal keratocytes in the laboratory from both stem cells which reside in the cornea (corneal stromal stem cells) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The production of keratocytes from stem cells will allow the future study of corneal stromal cell dystrophy to understand why it occurs and how it may be prevented. It may also provide a source of cells for future transplantation to dogs suffering from corneal diseases or injuries.