New insight into eye diseases

September 28, 2016 by Ziba Kashef
New insight into eye diseases
This image shows how transferred genes activate the stem cell properties of normally dormant retinal cells. Credit: Yale University

Many diseases that lead to blindness, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, are caused by the death of certain cells in the human retina that lack the ability to regenerate. But in species such as zebrafish these cells, known as Muller glial cells (MGs), do serve as retinal stem cells that are capable of generating new cells.

In a new study, a research team led by Associate Professor of Ophthalmology Bo Chen investigated whether the regenerative power of cells in zebrafish could be recreated in mammals, specifically mice.

The research team transferred genes into MGs to activate the stem cell properties of these normally dormant cells, causing them to reproduce and make other types of .

The strategy could be developed into a therapeutic tool, Chen said. "In the future we are hoping to manipulate these cells to replenish any lost retinal neurons, either in diseased or physically damaged retinas," he noted. "Potentially, it's a therapy to treat many different ."

Explore further: Potential new approaches to treating eye diseases

More information: Kai Yao et al. Wnt Regulates Proliferation and Neurogenic Potential of Müller Glial Cells via a Lin28/let-7 miRNA-Dependent Pathway in Adult Mammalian Retinas, Cell Reports (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.08.078

Related Stories

Potential new approaches to treating eye diseases

February 4, 2016
Potential new approaches to treating eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are described in a new study, "IL-33 amplifies an innate immune response in the degenerating retina," in the February Journal ...

Research advance may lead to new treatments for glaucoma

March 22, 2016
Researchers have developed a tool to not only model the underlying disease mechanisms of glaucoma, but also to help discover and test new pharmacological strategies to combat the neurodegeneration that occurs in patients ...

Study suggests stem cells may repair dying retinal cells

January 21, 2016
Researchers at St. Erik Eye Hospital and Karolinska Institutet have for the first time successfully transplanted human retinal pigment epithelial cells derived from stem cells into eyes that are similar to human eyes. The ...

Retinal regeneration in zebrafish (w/ Video)

July 30, 2014
University of Kentucky biologist Ann Morris is studying retinal regeneration in zebrafish to find ways to combat human eye diseases.

Recommended for you

Study indicates proof of concept for using a surrogate liquid biopsy to provide genetic profile of retinoblastoma tumors

October 12, 2017
Retinoblastoma is a tumor of the retina that generally affects children under 5 years of age. If not diagnosed early, retinoblastoma may result in loss of one or both eyes and can be fatal. Unlike most cancers that are diagnosed ...

Farsighted children struggle with attention, study finds

October 10, 2017
Farsighted preschoolers and kindergartners have a harder time paying attention and that could put them at risk of slipping behind in school, a new study suggests.

New drug reduces rate of progression of incurable eye disease

October 4, 2017
An international study including researchers from the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) has found a way to slow the progression of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) - one of the most common causes of vision ...

Gene therapy shows promise for reversing blindness

October 2, 2017
Most causes of untreatable blindness occur due to loss of the millions of light sensitive photoreceptor cells that line the retina, similar to the pixels in a digital camera.

Discovery provides glimmer of hope to prevent blindness

September 27, 2017
Macquarie University researchers have discovered that a naturally occurring protein in the body protects the eye from the common eye disease glaucoma, and which is particularly sensitive to oxidation through environmental ...

Coming soon: Glaucoma self-care, from home?

September 23, 2017
(HealthDay)—For many glaucoma patients, repeat trips to a doctor's office to check on their eyes can be a real pain.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NIPSZX
not rated yet Sep 28, 2016
Great study!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.