Using Stem Cells to Restore Sight

Up close image of a blue eye with wide pupil.

Scientists have taken the first step toward restoring sight, growing cells in a petri dish that can sense light. It’s essentially a retina, and scientists can do experiments with it that mimic what they would do with an actual retina.

The scientists copied the processes that occur in the womb, using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are “adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed back to embryonic-like state.”

Being able to create hundreds of retinas at a time lets scientists move more quickly on experimentation. It means not having to use animals’ eyes for testing, and being able to do custom testing, such as for specific drugs or specific diseases.

This is a first step that could open up new technologies to ultimately restore vision for people with retinal diseases. This research was reported in the latest online edition of the Journal Nature Communications. You can read more here.

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