REVOLUTIONARY stem cell treatment has given sight back to mice that were formerly completely blind.
Oxford University researchers transplanted cells into the eyes of mice that had lost their sight due to losing the light-sensing photoreceptor cells in their retinas.
They found they could reform the entire light-sensitive layer of the retina.
After the treatment, nocturnal mice that previously did not notice any difference between light and dark ran away from light and preferred to be in the dark, in the same way as mice with normal vision.
Prof Robert MacLaren, of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Oxford University, led the research along with eye surgeon Dr Mandeep Singh, who is from the National University Hospital of Singapore and undertaking PhD studies in Oxford.
Prof MacLaren said: “Stem cells have been trialled in patients to replace the pigmented lining of the retina, but this new research shows that the light-sensing layer might also be replaced in a similar way.”
He said this could lead towards potential cell treatments for blindness in humans using stem cells generated from patient’s own cells.
He said: “All the steps are there for doing this in patients in the future. Our study shows what we could achieve with a cell-based approach.”
The research was carried out on 12 mice, 10 of which showed improvement.