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New Stem Cell Therapy Can Restore Sight to the Blind

January 16, 2017

Stem Cell Therapy

Without a doubt, the treatment potential of stem cell therapies is extraordinary. Yet, there is one hurdle scientists have been working to overcome: making sure the cells survive in the human body long enough to ensure they function. Well, scientists at the Buck Institute may have found a way to make it happen.

In a study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, researchers managed to observe demonstrations of long-term vision restoration through photoreceptor transplants using human stem cells. They managed to prevent immune system rejection of the stem cells, blocking the usual immune responses that trigger rejection of the stem cells by the recipient’s body.

Originally, it wasn’t clear whether the transplanted photoreceptors simply died out before being effective or if they were shut down by the body’s immune system. Lamba explained that scientists thought the eye and the brain were exempted from monitoring by the immune system’s cells. To figure it out, the team studied a specific mouse strain that was healthy, but lacked a particular immune cell receptor called IL2rγ. These immunodeficient IL2 receptor gamma (IL2ry) null mice are unable to reject transplanted foreign cells.

These mice showed a ten-fold increase of living human embryonic stem cell-derived donor retinal cells. The transplanted retinal cells matured and successfully integrated into the mice’s retinas.

“This turned into a nice story of long-term restoration of vision in completely blind mice,” said Deepak Lamba, senior author. “We show that these mice can now perceive light as far out as 9-months following injection of these cells.”


Seeing how the transplants were able to survive, the researchers needed to test if they actually worked. Stem cell-derived photoreceptors were inserted into a strain of congenitally blind mice. By measuring their pupils’ response to light and their brains’ visual response centers (to check if signals from the eye were reaching the appropriate brain areas), the researchers observed that the mice were able to see again.

Read More – Source: New Stem Cell Treatment Can Restore Sight to the Blind

AUTHOR: Dom Galeon

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