When can I get a retinal transplant?
Not today but someday….
Researchers in Japan have shown that retinal transplantation in mice restored light perception to previously blind mice.
How did they do it?
They converted pluripotent stem cells into retinal tissue. Then, they transplanted that retinal tissue into a mouse with end-stage retinal degeneration. This piece of retinal tissue developed to form photoreceptors that established direct contact with neighboring cells in the retina.
And ta-da!!…..hello light perception.
What was different about this study?
The key to success was to use a piece of retinal tissue instead of individual retinal cells, which is what most researchers have been using.
“Using this method was a key point. Transplanting retinal tissue instead of simply using photoreceptor cells allowed the development of more mature, organized morphology, which likely led to better responses to light,” researcher Dr. Mandai said.
“Although the results are promising, the authors caution that for now this therapy is at the developmental stage.”
They state, “we cannot expect to restore practical vision at the moment. We will start from seeing a simple light, then possibly move on to larger figures in the next stage”.
Clinical trials are still at least two years away.