Print 50 comment(s) - last by Orbs.. on Nov 24 at 4:00 PM


The frog tadpole on the left was implanted with stem cells to give it a new eye, seen on the right. The discovery could one day restore sight in humans.  (Source: Michael Zuber)
Scientist help disabled frogs live fuller lives -- and hopefully someday humans too

Technology promises to cure many ailments in the near future, from paralysis to blindness.  In the case of blindness, the only question is whether an electronic gadget or an organic stem-cell driven solution will be the first to hit the market and gain mainstream acceptance.

Supporters of the stem cell approach got a big boost from new research at the SUNY Upstate Medical University, in Syracuse, NY.  Researcher Michael Zuber and his colleagues report that by taking stem cells from frog eggs, they're able to prod the cells to grow into eyes when attached to tadpoles, baby frogs.

In order to get the cells to become eyes, the team genetically modified them, inserting transcription factors (proteins that trigger expression of other genes) which are known to regulate eye growth and development.

The scientists then implanted the cells into tadpoles missing an eye.  The cells properly developed and differentiated into all seven types of retinal cells and appeared to have the proper structure.  Additionally the new eye attached properly to the brain.  In swimming tests the eye was shown to be working as implanted tadpoles only swam to the white side of the tank (normal behavior), while blind ones would also swim to the black side of the tank.

Would the technique work on mammals?  The answer is maybe -- frogs naturally have a much easier type regrowing tissues than humans, in fact they can be triggered to regrow legs and many amphibians can regrow lost tails.  Triggering proper differentiation in mammals is much more complex.

Nonetheless, Professor Zuber hopes that chemicals will be found from the research that can activate transcription factors in humans.  Even if a full eye could not be grown, this could help people with retinal disorders regenerate ocular tissue.

In a separate, but perhaps equally intriguing study performed by Sujeong Jang of Chonnam National University, in South Korea, and his colleagues, the researchers were able to restore the hearing of deaf guinea pigs by implanting them with human neural stem cells obtained from human bone marrow.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Windpipe Transplant
By kontorotsui on 11/21/2008 12:36:17 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think this is that far off, stem cell research has certainly come a long way. Recently a windpipe was transplanted into a patient, a windpipe that was created by her own stem cells extracted from her bone marrow.

Sorry you are mistaken. The windpipe was not "created" by her stem cells but came from a donor. The stem cells were used to cover the windpipe, to implant in the patient without rejection as the body would recognize it as part of itself.

RE: Windpipe Transplant
By spread on 11/21/2008 2:00:51 PM , Rating: 2
Close, but not quite.

To make the new airway, the doctors took a donor windpipe, or trachea, from a patient who had recently died. CT of the patient's lungs before A pre-surgery CT - the arrow showing the windpipe narrowing Then they used strong chemicals and enzymes to wash away all of the cells from the donor trachea, leaving only a tissue scaffold made of the fibrous protein collagen. This gave them a structure to repopulate with cells from Ms Castillo herself, which could then be used in an operation to repair her damaged left bronchus - a branch of the windpipe.

RE: Windpipe Transplant
By kontorotsui on 11/22/2008 5:25:53 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't that exactly what I wrote?

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki