The retina structures also showed the capacity to form layers of cells, just as the retina does in normal human development. These cells possessed the machinery that could allow them to communicate information – Light-sensitive photoreceptor cells in the retina along the back wall of the eye produce impulses that are ultimately transmitted through the optic nerve and then to the brain, allowing you to see.
Put together, these findings suggest that it is possible to assemble human retinal cells into more complex retinal tissues, all starting from a routine patient blood sample.
The UW researchers envision many applications of laboratory-built human retinal tissues, including using them to test drugs and study degenerative diseases of the retina such as retinitis pigmentosa, a prominent cause of blindness in children and young adults. It may also be possible, one day, to replace multiple layers of the retina in order to help patients with more widespread retinal damage.
According to Dennis Lox, MD, a sports, physical and regenerative medicine specialist in the Tampa Bay area, this study out of Wisconsin reinforces the amazing promise that stem cells hold in treating a variety of diseases and conditions. Some conditions, such as joint, tendon and muscle injury, are treatable now with stem cells. Other conditions, such as ALS, diabetes and MS, appear to be treatable, but widespread treatment is still in the near-future.
Read the full University of Wisconsin-Madison press release at http://www.med.wisc.edu/
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Dennis M. Lox, M.D. is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Since 1990, he has used sports medicine techiques and cutting-edge technology to help heal musculoskeletal injuries and relieve pain.