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  (Source: frogsite.org)

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.


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RE: It never ends!
By Myg on 11/21/2008 5:33:10 PM , Rating: 2
A little tongue-in-cheek to be honest, been hitting the fireflies again?


RE: It never ends!
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 11/21/2008 5:37:48 PM , Rating: 2
No, I don't have any fireflies until after the sun starts to set. Then I like to sit back and pop a few back real quick like.


RE: It never ends!
By Myg on 11/21/2008 5:39:19 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a nice way to cool off, dont want the ol' blood to boil...


RE: It never ends!
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 11/21/2008 5:42:31 PM , Rating: 2
Well you know it's the slowly heated pot that will kill you not the already boiling one.....


RE: It never ends!
By Myg on 11/21/2008 5:44:26 PM , Rating: 2
Its always the little things... But I have an eye for such situations


RE: It never ends!
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 11/21/2008 5:47:50 PM , Rating: 2
And now based on this article you can have a couple eyes to spare... In case you lose one, you can bounce right back with a new eye and never lose the spring in your step....


RE: It never ends!
By Myg on 11/21/2008 6:05:13 PM , Rating: 2
Not much into the google look myself, but this stuff really is going ahead in leaps and bounds!


RE: It never ends!
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 11/21/2008 6:10:00 PM , Rating: 2
yes, one can really jump deep into this subject.


RE: It never ends!
By Myg on 11/21/2008 6:19:39 PM , Rating: 2
I prefer the shallows myself; if your not careful you might end up the creek without a paddle's chance.


RE: It never ends!
By DNAgent on 11/23/2008 5:37:54 PM , Rating: 2
This TOTALLY proves the superiority of the PS3 over the 360.


RE: It never ends!
By Myg on 11/24/2008 5:55:18 AM , Rating: 2
I toadally disagree...


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