Researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered that stem cells extracted from bone marrow can restore damaged retinal tissue by generating new cells.
The findings are an important step toward helping people who experience vision loss and blindness as a result of age-related macular degeneration and hereditary retinal degeneration, the university said in a news release.
Researchers found that stem cells removed from bone marrow were attracted to damaged retinal pigment epithelium, the pigmented cell layer just outside the retina.
“More research is needed to optimize the outcome and potential repair of damaged retinal pigment epithelium,” researcher Suzanne Ildstad said in the release.
Henry Kaplan, a researcher in the U of L Department of Opthalmology and Visual Sciences, is expanding the research in conjunction with the Swine Institute at the University of Missouri, the release said. Research will be conducted on pigs because of their optical similarities to humans.
Success in curing optical defects might also lead to bone marrow stem cells being used to treat congestive heart failure, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases and spinal cord injuries, the release said.
Source: Business First 21 May 2009