Scientists use Stem Cells to regenerate Retinal Tissue and Improve Visual Function
6/22/2011 8:07 PM
This is exciting science and just may lead to improvements in treatment and hope to those who lose visual function from blinding retinal diseases like macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy or retinitis pigmentosa. Scientists from Schepens Eye Institute are the first to regenerate large areas of damaged retinal celsls dervied from stem cells derived from skin. The experiments were doen on rats. What is ecxting and unique about this study is the new regenerated retinal tissue integrated and organized itself into the existing retina and a level of visual function was restored. Electrical activity was measure by ERG (electroretinography). By stimulating the retinas of these mice with light, signals could be measured in neurons downstream from the damaged and newly regenerated retinal cells , indicating connection between teh new retina and existing neurons. Larger animal trials will follow and hopefully human trials in the future. Regeneration of retinal tissue and resultant electrical function may be the start for futre stem cell therapy fro retinal disease.