Embryonic stem cells could help restore sight to blind
Photoreceptors grown from embryonic stem cells have been successfully implanted in the retinas of blind mice
Scientists have shown that light-sensitive retinal cells, grown in the lab from stem cells, can successfully integrate into the eye when implanted into blind mice. The technique opens up the possibility that a similar treatment could help people who have become blind through damage to their retinas to regain some of their sight.
Loss of light-sensitive nerve cells, known as photoreceptors, is a major cause of blindness in conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and diabetes-related blindness. These conditions affect many thousands of people in the UK alone and there is no effective treatment at present. Scientists have been exploring the possibility of somehow replacing the photoreceptors, which come in two types: rods that help us see in low light conditions, and cones, which help us differentiate colours.