Pioneering research at the University of Southampton has uncovered possible new ways to treat vision loss conditions such as age-related macular degeneration. The discovery focuses on the possibility to convert stem cells found in the corneal limbus to new photoreceptor cells.
A photoreceptor cell is a type of neuron found in the retina that is able to convert light into electric signals in the rod, cone and photosensitive ganglion cells. This process is known as phototransduction. Such cells are crucial for sight. Over time these cells can deteriorate and lead to blindness. With age a factor, the research project was even more exciting considering that the replacement cells are still found in older people's eyes, leading to the ability to treat even the elderly.
Currently, in the UK, 33% of people in the UK are affected by age-related macular degeneration by the age of 75. Such stem cell research is hoped to be able to form new treatments for many of these people.
Where are these cells found?
- The stem cells are found in the corneal limbus
- Cultured from the corneal limbus in vitro
- Can be converted to act like photoreceptor cells
- Age is not necessarily a factor, and cells can be cultured from the eyes of the elderly
"MSC high magnification" by Robert M. Hunt - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MSC_high_magnification.jpg#mediav...