Progress toward a stem cell–based therapy for blindness

Research is being conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, with the University of Wisconsin, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute for a cell therapy for people with retinal disorders. Researchers were able to place photoreceptor cells into the eyes of dogs. These dogs were given immunosuppressive drugs and the implanted cells were able to make connections with existing cells in the eyes. The goal of this therapy was to recreate the photoreceptor layer in the eye which recognizes light. The team had also used a new surgical method to put these cells into the eye. The next steps include improving the therapy and then testing whether it will actually improve vision.


What this means for Usher syndrome: In Usher syndrome, photoreceptors cells die leading to vision loss. This new cell therapy could be a possible way to place new cells into the eye and replace cells that have died. This research is still in the early stages, but provides an improvement in the cell therapy process.


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