Researchers found that a new technique using stem cells restored vision in mice with end-stage eye disease, a condition that brings irreversible vision loss.
Scientists from RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan used stem cells to grow new retina tissue in a lab. Then, they transplanted the tissue into mice suffering of end-stage retinal degeneration.
More than 40% of them gained the ability to see light after the procedure.
This is the first time researchers have successfully transplanted the cells that sense light, the retina‘s light receptors, so that these cells connect to the host’s nervous system and send signals to the host’s brain, the researchers said.
It is yet unclear if such a technique could be applied in humans and researchers still need to do more tests. A challenging aspect is that mice could respond to light one month after the retina transplant, while in humans the retina needs five to six months to mature.