Transplanted cells can function in rodents' eyes
Retina cells can be grown from mouse stem cells in the laboratory and become working parts of a mouse’s eye, a new study indicates.
Last year, Robin Ali of University College London and colleagues demonstrated that immature retina cells from newborn mice could form rod cells – a type of light-gathering cell – that wire into the retinas of night-blind adult mice (SN: 5/19/12, p. 13). For the technology to help restore sight in people, such as those with macular degeneration, the researchers needed to come up with a ready source of immature retinal cells.
Ali and colleagues report July 21 in Nature Biotechnology that they have devised a way to coax mouse embryonic stem cells to form primitive retinas in a laboratory dish. Most researchers who have tried to grow retinas have failed. The trick, Ali’s team found, was to embed the stem cells in a gel instead of growing the cells on top of the dish. The gel