Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews


Print Page Follow BioNews on Twitter BioNews RSS feed

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook



King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter





Rat's vision restored with stem cell treatment

12 March 2012

By Dr Nadeem Shaikh

Appeared in BioNews 648

A potential stem cell therapy for glaucoma – a degenerative eye condition that can lead to blindness – has yielded positive results in animal tests. The treatment led to a 50 percent improvement in vision in rats with a model of the disease.

Glaucoma is a condition where pressure builds up in the eye, resulting in the death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) that normally form optic nerve fibres and help transmit information from the eye to the brain. It affects about 500,000 people in the UK, and 70 million people across the world. One in ten people with the disease go blind, often either because they were diagnosed too late or because their condition was too severe to be treated. In such cases, there is currently no way to reverse the blindness.

In this study, scientists at University College London, and Moorfields Eye Hospital, used adult stem cells called Müller glia cells. These rare cells, in this case isolated from corneas from organ donors, are multipotent, meaning they can develop into any type of eye cell. The scientists induced the Müller glia cells to develop into precursors to RGCs, then placed them in rats whose RGCs had been damaged in a way to simulate glaucoma. After four weeks the cells had not merged with the afflicted rat cell population but instead formed new bridges between undamaged sections. Under very low light conditions, the rats' vision had improved by 50 percent.

Dr Astrid Limb of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, and leader of the research team, said: 'Although this research is still a long way from the clinic, it is a significant step towards our ultimate goal of finding a cure for glaucoma and other related conditions. We are optimistic that [...] we will be in a good position to start early-stage clinical trials on humans in around three to five years'.

Dr Rob Buckle, head of regenerative medicine at the Medical Research Council (MRC), which funded the research, said: 'Regenerative medicine is a key priority for the MRC and it's wonderful to see another example of how our significant investment in stem cell research in recent years is beginning to deliver results. Repair of the eye is an area that is now at the forefront of this field, and this study highlights a new route for delivering the promise of regenerative medicine to treat disabling conditions such as glaucoma'.

Other groups are also using stem cell technology to treat ocular diseases. The US company, Advanced Cell Technology, received the go-ahead earlier this year for a clinical trial to test a proposed stem cell therapy for advanced Stargardt disease – a leading cause of blindness in young people (reported in BioNews 642). That trial, which will be conducted in partnership with Moorfields Eye Hospital, will use human embryonic – rather than adult – stem cells.

 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

29 July 2013 - by Greg Ball 
Light-sensitive cells found in the retina have been grown from mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and successfully transplanted into the eyes of visually impaired mice, restoring some vision... [Read More]
17 June 2013 - by Rhys Baker 
A 'non-invasive' method for delivering gene therapy into the eye has been developed by US researchers... [Read More]
18 February 2013 - by Maria Sheppard 
Twenty-four genes linked to short-sightedness have been identified by an international consortium of scientists... [Read More]
07 January 2013 - by Greg Ball 
Immune cells that can recognise and kill cancer cells have been grown from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)... [Read More]
28 May 2012 - by Ana Pallesen 
Two patients with corneal blindness have become the first people in the UK to have stem cells transplanted into their eyes in order to restore their sight... [Read More]

13 February 2012 - by Maria Botcharova 
Three women have reported a significant improvement in sight following gene therapy in both their eyes. Initially, they received the therapy in just one eye, but this latest study demonstrates the treatment was also successful in the other... [Read More]
06 February 2012 - by Ruth Retassie 
US company StemCells Inc have received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorisation to carry out clinical trials of their treatment for one of the leading causes of blindness in over 55-year-olds... [Read More]
31 January 2012 - by Dr Dusko Ilic and Dr Emma Stephenson 
Last week, Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) of Massachusetts, USA, made two important announcements regarding human embryonic stem (hES) cell-based therapies for the potential treatment of Stargardt's dystrophy and age-related macular degeneration, two devastating degenerative disease leading to blindness.... [Read More]
31 January 2012 - by Rosemary Paxman 
A clinical trial testing the safety of using human embryonic stem cell (hESC) in the treatment of progressive eye conditions has been carried out by researchers in the USA... [Read More]
21 March 2011 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
UK scientists have shown stem cells can be used to successfully stop glaucoma, an eye disorder, in rats. Stem cells were isolated from bone marrow and successfully grafted onto damaged nerves in the eye... [Read More]

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to Login or Register to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

 


 

- click here to enquire about using this story.

Printer Friendly Page

Published by the Progress Educational Trust
RISK ASSESSMENT:
BREAST CANCER, PREDICTION AND SCREENING
FREE public event in central London, 6.30pm on Thursday 8 May 2014 - find out more HERE

ANNIVERSARY APPEAL
Please donate HERE, so that the Progress Educational Trust can continue throughout 2014 (and beyond) while keeping BioNews FREE for you to read

The Progress Educational Trust was shortlisted for the Charity Times Awards 2011

Advertise your products and services HERE - click for further details

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE, and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation