Skin Stem Cells Yield PhotoreceptorsPosted September 14th, 2011
For the first time, researchers have used skin stem cells to successfully regenerate tissue in a retina. So far, the results have occurred only in mice.
Diseases of the retina typically cause retinal cells—called photoreceptors—to gradually die off. This decreases the eye’s ability to capture light. In the recent studies, doctors inserted skin stem cells into the eyes of mice. After several weeks, healthy retinal tissue had formed. Researchers confirmed that the tissue was producing electrical activity, and could be stimulated by light.
The positive results may eventually lead to effective treatments for diseases that cause incurable blindness in humans. Diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, and age-related macular degeneration all might eventually be treatable, if the current research produces the hoped-for benefits.