by Dan Roberts
Scientists from Harvard's Schepens Eye Research Institute have, for the first time, successfully improved the vision of mice with transplanted stem cells. Neural stem (progenitor) cells were obtained from day-old mice and grafted into the degenerating retinas of mature mice. The transplanted cells were then seen to develop into mature neurons.
In their report published in the November 2004 issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, the researchers observed "rescue of cells in the outer nuclear layer (ONL), along with widespread integration of donor cells into the inner retina, and recipient mice showed improved light-mediated behavior compared with control animals." Simply put, the procedure preserved existing cells and restored health to those that were degenerating. This is a major step toward the therapeutic use of stem cells for people with all forms of retinal degeneration.
Source: Multipotent Retinal Progenitors Express Developmental Markers, Differentiate into Retinal Neurons, and Preserve Light-Mediated Behavior (Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. 2004;45:4167-4173. Henry J. Klassen, et al)
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