A recent study evaluated a new kind of therapy derived from umbilical cord blood for treating corneal lesions and found it was both effective and well-tolerated in patients. The authors noted that cord blood is readily available and contains unique biological characteristics, including growth factors and anti-inflammatory molecules. They pointed out that this source of allogenic eye drops can be produced much faster than autologous blood serum eye drops.

The eye drops in this study were prepared from donated cord blood platelet concentrates, which then underwent three freeze/thaw cycles to obtain platelet lysate that was rich in anti-inflammatory and tissue regenerative factors. It was then centrifuged to sediment the platelet stroma.

The multicenter, retrospective, consecutive case study included 46 eyes of 33 patients who were unresponsive to conventional treatments and required urgent intervention. At four to six times per day for 19 days, patients received the allogenic drops to treat their ocular lesions. This 19-day cycle was repeated based on clinical necessity.

Patients were grouped by acute and chronic condition: neurotrophic ulcers (group 1), other corneal ulcers (group 2), corneal burns (group 3), ocular graft-vs.-host disease (group 4) and severe dry eye disease (group 5).

To complete therapy, patients received a median of 19 cord blood eye drop vials. The researchers reported that 78% of groups 1 through 3 demonstrated full recovery, and 19% demonstrated partial recovery. One eye didn’t respond to treatment. In the chronic groups, 85% of eyes experienced improvement, and lesions worsened with treatment in both eyes for one patient (15%). There were no adverse events directly related to the eye drops.

The researchers concluded that cord blood eye drops were a well-tolerated allogenic treatment for the study cohort. “The positive results support further studies on cord blood eye drops from platelet lysate as a novel product of cord blood banks,” they wrote in their paper. A prospective clinical trial focusing on neurotrophic keratitis is currently underway.

Samarkanova D, Martin S, Bisbe L, et al. Clinical evaluation of allogenic eye drops from cord blood platelet lysate. Blood Transfus. October 9, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].