In a past post we showed you a video describing how a 38-year-old man who was blinded in one eye, 17 years ago, has regained his eyesight due to a groundbreaking new stem cell treatment (see Stem Cells Cure Blind Man). The treatment used autologous stem cells from the patient’s healthy eye which were propogated and transplanted into the damaged one. This restored his vision and helped him get back to a normal life.
In a new study appearing in an advance online publication of the journal Stem Cells on June 15, 2011, investigators used recently developed technology to generate induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from a human patient with an uncommon inherited eye disease known as gyrate atrophy. This disorder affects retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells, the cells critical to the support of the retina’s photoreceptor cells, which function in the transmission of messages from the retina to parts of the brain that interpret images.
“When we generate iPS cells, correct the gene defect that is responsible for this disease, and guide these stem cells to become RPE cells, these RPE cells functioned normally. This is exciting because it demonstrates we can fix something that is out of order. It also supports our belief that in the future, one might be able to use this approach for replacement of cells lost or malfunctioning due to other more common diseases of the retina,” said lead study author cell biologist Jason Meyer, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology in the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
I’m sure that the legendary Jonny Nash would agree that this is something to sing about!