Scientists have successfully regenerated cells in the retina of adult mice at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.
Their results raise the hope that someday it may be possible to repair retinas damaged by trauma, glaucoma and other eye diseases. Their efforts are part of the UW Medicine Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine.
Many tissues of our bodies, such as our skin, can heal because they contain stem cells that can divide and differentiate into the type of cells needed to repair damaged tissue. The cells of our retinas, however, lack this ability to regenerate. As a consequence, injury to the retina often leads to permanent vision loss.
This is not the case, however, in zebrafish, which have a remarkable ability to regenerate damaged tissue, including neural tissue like the retina. This is possible because the zebrafish retina contains cells called Müller glia that harbor a gene that allows them to regenerate. When these cells sense that the retina has been injured, they turn on this gene, called Ascl1.
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