The Independent UK
22nd July 2013
Cells to restore eyesight are grown in lab and transplanted into blind mice
Artificial photoreceptors integrated into retina after being transplanted into blind mice
by STEVE CONNOR
The prospect of restoring the sight of blind people with stem-cell transplants has come a step closer with a study showing that it is possible to grow the light-sensitive cells of the eye in a dish with the help of an artificial retina, scientists said.
For the first time, researchers have not only grown the photoreceptors of the eye in the laboratory from stem cells but transplanted them into eyes of blind mice where the cells have become fully integrated into the complex retinal tissue.
So far the scientists have been unable to show any improvement in the vision of the blind mice – but they are confident that this will soon be possible in further experiments, which should enable them to move to the first clinical trials on patients within five years.
Professor Robin Ali of University College London, who led the research at the Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital, said that the technique could lead to stem cell transplants for improving the vision of thousands of people with degenerative eye disorders caused by the progressive loss of photosensitive cells.