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Developing cells were transplanted into the eyes of blind mice, ultimately allowing them to see again

Oxford University scientists have found a valid treatment for retinitis pigmentosa through stem cells and mice models.

The study, led by Professor Robert MacLaren in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Oxford, transplanted developing cells into the eyes of blind mice, ultimately allowing them to see again.

Using mice that had a complete loss of photoreceptor cells in their retinas, which allows them to sense light, the researchers transplanted developing stem cells into their eyes. After two weeks, the cells recreated a full light-detecting layer on the retina.

To test whether the mice could actually see, the researchers performed a pupil constriction test. Ten out of the 12 mice responded to the light and ran away to the dark, showing that their retinas were sensing light and this reaction was transmitted down the optic nerve to the brain.

"Stem cells have been trialled in patients to replace the pigmented lining of the retina, but this new research shows that the light-sensing layer might also be replaced in a similar way," said MacLaren. "The light-sensing cells have a highly complex structure and we observed that they can resume function as a layer and restore connections after transplantation into the completely blind retina.

"We have shown the transplanted cells survive, they become light-sensitive, and they connect and reform the wiring to the rest of the retina to restore vision. The ability to reconstruct the entire light sensitive layer of the retina using cell transplantation is the ultimate goal of the stem cell treatments for blindness we are all working towards."

This study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Science Daily





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