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See, blind mice

Transplants of light-gathering cells restore night vision in rodents

The farmer’s wife in the nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice may need a different mouse hunting strategy. Thanks to new cell transplants, some formerly night-blind mice can see in the dark again, perhaps even well enough to evade the carving knife of the farmer’s wife.

Injections of light-gathering nerve cells called rods into the retinas of night-blind mice integrated into the brain’s visual system and restored sight, Robin Ali of the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology and colleagues report online April 18 in Nature. The finding gives new hope that cell transplants may reverse damage to the brain and eyes caused by degenerative diseases and help heal spinal cord injuries.

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