Rare health disorder linked to eye transplant surgery discovered

Dr. Wouter Hamman, a consultant neurologist at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, has identified at least 80 cases of patients from 18 different countries who have developed potentially life-threatening symptoms after receiving…

Rare health disorder linked to eye transplant surgery discovered

Dr. Wouter Hamman, a consultant neurologist at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, has identified at least 80 cases of patients from 18 different countries who have developed potentially life-threatening symptoms after receiving an injection of a xenograft, or part of a human embryo or stem cell, into the omicron nucleus, or membrane, of one of their retinas. (This ionic structure is one of the first structures on the outside of the retina.) Until now, neurosurgeons knew of just a handful of these cases.

These patients were found to have various symptoms such as vision difficulties and physical loss, eventually resulting in visual impairment. The omicron mutations occurred in genetically similar groups of patients who received oticatic transplants to treat ocular blindness. But Hamman suspects the same mutations could have occurred simultaneously in at least nine different oticatic cases from 18 different countries, which led him to publish a paper last week in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that provides “the largest number of omicron variants, to date.”

“I think that the diagnosis of omicron misplacement syndrome is very likely as the condition usually presents with impaired vision, development of unplanned retinal detachments, and appearance of an irregular appearance, usually with an abnormally elongated iris,” he told me. “One oticated case even took over control of his [the patient] right eye. It also can lead to patients with dangerous retinal detachments and patients with a high risk of retinal detachment. Hence it deserves a closer and more detailed investigation.”

A number of patients and oticatic donors have matched eye tumors or eye structures, making the possibility of genetic mutations an even more compelling hypothesis, Hamman said. The research team also noted they found omicron variants in patients with 2.5 percent and 4.2 percent prevalence among ocular cancer cases.

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