Stem Cell Research

Scientists Complete Transplant of Retinas Made from Stem Cells in Mice

Could help work toward doing the same for humans

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For the first time, scientists have successfully transplanted light-detecting cells in the retina, grown from embryonic stem cells, into mice--a feat that could advance similar therapies using the artificial cells to treat degenerative eye diseases toward human trials.

The animal transplant is a huge step for embryonic stem cell-based therapies, which have moved slowly to the clinic despite their promise.

A team of scientists from University College London's Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital in London grew a synthetic retina from embryonic stem cells in the lab, extracted the light-sensitive photoreceptor cells that line the back of the eyes, and transplanted the cells into night-blind mice. Researchers observed that the cells seemed to develop normally, integrating into the existing retina and forming the nerve connections needed to transmit visual information to the brain.