Researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health were able to create retinal cells from human stem cells that can detect light and change it to electrical waves. These retinal cells grow as three-dimensional mini-retinas called organoid cone photoreceptors, and are the first of their kind made from stem cells that can respond to light. This is the first time scientists were able to obtain photoreceptors that can be activated by this natural stimulus. These new retinal cells have responses that were light specific, which is what should happen in an eye that does not need stem cell therapy. The researchers want to improve on these cells and will use them in models that resemble retinas with degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa.
What this means for Usher syndrome: This research is still in its early stages but it could be a potential therapy in the future to replace damaged cells in the retina of Usher patients.