Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Shows Stem Cells Can Preserve Vision

Date:
November 24, 2004
Source:
Schepens Eye Research Institute
Summary:
For the first time researchers have shown that transplanted stem cells can preserve and improve vision in eyes damaged by retinal disease. In the cover article in the November 2004 Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, scientists from Harvard's Schepens Eye Research Institute describe results of a mouse study in which transplanted stem cells develop into retinal cells, prevent the death of "at risk" retina cells in the recipient mice and improve the vision of treated mice.

Boston, MA – For the first time researchers have shown that transplanted stem cells can preserve and improve vision in eyes damaged by retinal disease. In the cover article in the November 2004 Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, scientists from Harvard's Schepens Eye Research Institute describe results of a mouse study in which transplanted stem cells develop into retinal cells, prevent the death of "at risk" retina cells in the recipient mice and improve the vision of treated mice.

"These findings hold great promise for potential treatments for people suffering from macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other retinal diseases," says Michael Young, PhD, an assistant scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute and the lead author of the study.

The retina is a tissue-thin membrane at the back of the eye responsible for sending light and images from the outside world through the optic nerve to the brain, which interprets them. The retina contains light sensitive cells, known as rods, which make it possible for us to see in black and white and in low light, and cones, which are responsible for color and high-acuity vision. In diseases such as macular degeneration, it is these cells that are being destroyed.

Believing that stem cells – cells that have the capacity to change into other kinds of cells – could potentially save vision, Young and his team decided to test their theory in mice. They transplanted retinal stem cells from young "green" mice into the eyes of normal-colored mice that had retinal disease. Green mice are genetically raised so that all their tissues are fluorescent green. The green color makes it possible to detect where the transplanted cells are and how they are growing and changing.

After several weeks the team evaluated the eyes of the treated mice and found that the green cells had migrated to where they were needed in the damaged retina and had changed into what looked like normal retinal cells. The scientists also found that many of the cone cells that were on the verge of dying before the transplant appeared to regain or retain their function. The researchers speculated that the transplanted cells were secreting a factor or substance that saved these fragile cells. (There is growing evidence that rod cells keep cone cells alive by secreting a special factor)

To test whether the mice with transplanted stem cells could see better, the team then placed them and the control mice (without the transplants or with non-stem cell transplants) in dark cages and flashed a series of increasingly lower level lights at both groups over a period of time. Mice are photophobic and stop their normal activity when they detect light. The researchers took advantage of this natural response and found that the mice with the transplanted tissue continued to respond to the light as it reached the lowest levels. The control mice did not.

"These are the first steps toward the use of stem cells for saving existing vision and then -- down the road-- restoring vision that has already been lost," says Young, who believes that stems cells will have many roles to play in the fight against blinding diseases. Young and his team are now investigating the same phenomenon in pigs, whose eyes are larger and more like human eyes.

###

Members of the research team include: Henry J. Klassen‡, Tat Fong Ng*, Yasuo Kurimoto*, Ivan Kirov‡, Marie Shatos*, Peter Coffey†, and Michael J. Young*

*Schepens Eye Research Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114†Visual Transplantation Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TP UK‡CHOC Research, Children's Hospital of Orange County, Orange, CA 92868


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Schepens Eye Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Schepens Eye Research Institute. "Study Shows Stem Cells Can Preserve Vision." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123213125.htm>.
Schepens Eye Research Institute. (2004, November 24). Study Shows Stem Cells Can Preserve Vision. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123213125.htm
Schepens Eye Research Institute. "Study Shows Stem Cells Can Preserve Vision." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123213125.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Herman Goldman has worked at the same lighting store for almost 75 years. Find out his secrets to a happy, productive life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Nancy Writebol, an American missionary who contracted Ebola, is apparently getting better, according to her husband. The outbreak, however, is not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins