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Transplanted photoreceptor precursor cells restore visual function in mice with retinal degeneration

ore they were assigned their specialized function, they survived but failed to integrate into the mature retina. Only one group of cells remained viable: cells that were not yet mature, but had developed to the point at which they were committed to becoming rods.

After almost two decades of directing fundamental research on retinal development and degenerative diseases, Swaroop believes that scientists are at last entering a period of rapid discovery. "This provides a clear example of how basic fundamental research can contribute to treatment of blinding diseases," he says. "We now have proof of principle that our approach to repairing damaged retina by transplantation of appropriate cells can be successful."

Swaroop sees several next steps in his quest to find treatments for retinal and macular degeneration. His research team will continue to study the properties of photoreceptor cells and mouse models to learn more about the process of transplantation and functional integration. He hopes that he will soon be able to investigate how the concept of transplanting photoreceptor precursors can be adapted to the human retina. "Perhaps within the next five years we will begin to see the first steps toward retinal cell transplants for people with blinding eye disease," says Swaroop.
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Source:University of Michigan Health System


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