Stem cells bring new insights to future treatment of vision and neural disorders

(Stem Cells News image)

Deep in the brain, buried in the hippocampus and subventricular zone, reside adult neural stem cells, cells that retain the ability to become other types of neural cells and could serve as possible treatments for ailments ranging from vision impairment to Parkinson’s to spinal cord injuries. Doctors, scientists and patients, however, are understandably hesitant to go digging around for them, their location being “a great deterrent,” Sally Temple, founder of the New York Neural Stem Cell Institute, said at the 2009 World Stem Cell Summit here on Wednesday.

Researchers, therefore, are anxious to uncover other, more accessible neural stem cell candidates. Temple and her team have turned their sights to the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a layer of tissue at the base of the retina that comes into being within 30 to 50 days of conception, before many other parts of the neural system differentiate. Cells from this area of the eye can be easily harvested from retinal fluid that is usually discarded during retinal surgery, she explained (…)


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