By using stem cells derived from bone marrow, two groups of scientists have induced the growth of new blood vessels in the eyes of mice. The marrow cells zeroed in on spots in the eye where blood vessels had been damaged.
Replacing these vessels with new ones presents a possible therapy for people, says Martin Friedlander of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. Or, ironically, the stem cells might work best as delivery vehicles for compounds that would halt the excessive growth of poor-quality blood vessels, a common problem in damaged eye tissue, he says. Both these approaches might lead to treatments to prevent blindness in elderly people and patients with diabetes.
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