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Madison, Wisconsin – Soon, some treatments for blinding eye diseases might be developed and tested using retina-like tissues produced from the patient’s own skin, thanks to a series of discoveries reported by a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison stem cell researchers.
The team, led by stem cell scientist and ophthalmologist Dr. David Gamm of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and former UW scientist Dr. Jason Meyer, used human embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to generate three-dimensional structures that are similar to those present at the earliest stages of retinal
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
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Scientists genetically “reprogrammed” human skin cells to possess the same properties as those that make up the retina.
The process involved first turning them into pluripotent stem (IPS) cells, which have the potential to develop into virtually every kind of tissue in the body.
By exposing the IPS cells to a specific cocktail of chemicals, the scientists then caused them to grow into partially developed retina cells – the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye which transmit nerve signals to the brain.
Although the work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is
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Human embryonic stem cells implanted into mice specifically engineered to have a serious retinal dysfunction resulting in blindness have restored the animal’s capacity to sense light during tests.
The results, published in international magazine, Cell Stem Cell, were obtained in the United States by a research group in the Department of Biological Structure at the University of Washington in Seattle. The study, performed by Deepak Lamba, Juliane Gust, and Thomas Reh, demonstrated that it is possible to obtain retina progenitor cells from stem cells derived from the embryo. The researchers observed, “In principle, embryonic stem
After much hope and controversy, for the first time stem cells have proven to have the ability to cure blindness.
The news comes from a study on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) of the retina, the most common cause of blindness in individuals over the age of 50.
The Sunday Times reports that the treatment was developed by a group of British researchers, who say that in the next six to seven years the treatment will become a routine operation, which will not last more than an hour.
The treatment involves the replacement of a layer of degenerated cells with new cells created