Stem cell retina therapy treatment might provide miraculous 'cure' for blindness

The three blind mice might get the chance to see because of groundbreaking stem cell research being done in Britain.

Scientists in the UK took stem cells from mice embryos, put them in a petri dish and coaxed them into becoming photoreceptors, the cells in the retina that catch light.

After collecting 200,000 of the stem cells turned photoreceptors the scientists then injected the cells into the eyes of blind mice, and some of the cells integrated into the host retina and restored sight.

The rodents were then run through a maze and examined by optometry to confirm that they did indeed respond to light.


The groundbreaking work was published by Britain's Medical Research Council and in the science journal "Nature Biotechnology."

While the work is still years away from helping humans, it is an extremely promising start to curing blindness caused by photoreceptor loss like retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.

The biggest breakthrough that the team in England was able to achieve was turning the finicky stem cells into stable photoreceptors, instead of deadly cancer cells.

Additionally, researchers in the past could turn stem cells into rod cells which are a component of the complex network of nerves in the retina but now they are able to create photoreceptors that comprise all the different nerves needed for sight.

"Over recent years, scientists have become pretty good at working with stem cells and coaxing them to develop into different types of adult cells and tissues," said lead researcher Robin Ali at the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital.

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Stem cell retina therapy treatment might provide miraculous 'cure' for blindness

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