Cheek Tissue Promising

As Cornea Replacement

Thin sheets of cheek tissue were successfully used in a small study to replace the damaged corneas of people blinded by an eye disease, Japanese researchers reported yesterday.

Their findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, may offer new routes to restoring damaged vision, and perhaps also for engineering other types of tissue transplants.

Kohji Nishida of Osaka University Medical School and colleagues successfully transplanted thin layers of cheek cells onto the eyes of four patients with a rare and painful eye condition that clouded their corneas. The patients could see afterward, and their new corneas were still clear more than a year later, they reported.

The researchers took 3-millimeter-wide squares of tissue from inside the cheeks and used a low-temperature technique to grow them into thin layers in the lab. The cell layers stuck to the eye without stitching and developed into tissue that looked and acted like healthy corneas.

Allergy Drug Warnings

Adequate, Panel Says

Warning labels for certain steroid-based allergy and asthma drugs provide sufficient warnings about potential side effects -- including stunted growth -- in children and teenagers, a panel of medical experts concluded yesterday.

The Food and Drug Administration advisory panel reviewed safety information related to several allergy and asthma drugs, including GlaxoSmithKline PLC's Advair, Flonase and Flovent and AstraZeneca PLC's Pulmicort/Rhinocort.

"We do not have concerns about the use of these drug products as labeled," said Joan Chesney, the panel's chairman and head of academic programs at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. The committee focused in part on studies of medicines containing steroids called budesonide or fluticasone that are delivered via nose sprays or oral inhalers.

Current labels for the steroidal drugs already include precautions about possible growth problems and other side effects.

-- From News Services