A study published in Nature found that retinal cells have the ability to regenerate in mice.
Let’s start with some background first.
Zebrafish (the transparent ones) have the ability to regenerate their retina if it’s damaged.
When there is damage they turn on a gene called Ascl1. This gene reprograms themuller cells to become more like stem cells which allow for regeneration.
This gene caught the eye (see what I did there) of a few researchers. They wondered what would happen if they damaged a mouse retina (which is like ours in that it’s unable to regenerate) and then over-expressed this gene. Turns out, the muller cells started to differentiate into functioning interneurons. These interneurons integrated into the existing retina and established connections with other retinal cells.
The take home:
Retinal cell regeneration in a mouse model is possible. The research team envisions this approach could be useful for the treatment of acute eye injuries and CRAO’s.