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Retina Restoration with Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

For the first time in the history of medicine the scientists were able to restore large areas of damaged retina and improve vision with the use of induced pluripotent stem cells derived from skin cells. This is indicated by studies on mice conducted in the Shepens Eye Research Institute (USA).

The success of the research may lead to the development of new effective treatments for age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, and other rather wide-spread eye diseases leading to partial or complete vision loss.

Underlying mechanism of diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration is destruction of retina photoreceptor cells which leads to deterioration of the eye's ability to perceive light and transmit the information to the brain and eventually to vision loss. Given the fact that endogenous regeneration of retina photoreceptor cells is very limited, stem cell treatment methods are very promising in this regard.
The study was conducted on mice models lacking photoreceptor cells in the retina. Induced pluripotent stem cells derived from skin cells of the tails of red fluorescent mice were used for the transplantation. Using the cells of these animals was due to the fact that their "red" cells were easier to track after transplantation to non-fluorescent laboratory mice.

The stem cells were prepared for 33 days and then transplanted into mice lacking photoreceptors in the retina. In 4-6 weeks, the researchers documented that the transplanted stem cells settled in the photoreceptor layer of the retina and began to restore photoreceptors.

Electric retinography showed that electric activity in the restored retinal tissue has risen to about half the norm observed in the healthy retina. In addition, to verify the integration of new photoreceptors in the retina, the researchers conducted a dark adaptation test. They found that stimulation of photoreceptors by light lead to appearing signals in the lower neurons, which was not observed in blind untreated mice. This suggested that photoreceptors generated from induced pluripotent stem cells successfully took root in the retina and contributed to the vision restoration.

Fetal stem cells treatment results depend on: disease's severity, age of the patient, adherence for the medications and regime. Treatment results, presented on this site, are individual for each clinical case.