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Scientists Morph Human Retinal Cells From Skin Cells - Wow!

It was just a few months ago on the VisiVite Blog that we published studies regarding stem cell research for treatment of eye disease which shortly followed the new federal laws that were enacted. But in a scientfic stem-cell breakthrough today out of the University of Wisconsin (Madison), researchers have suggested a new way to treat eye disease in which new retinal cells could be created from the patient's own skin - thus matching their DNA and starting a discussion as to whether in the future, patients could provide their own retinal transplants. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="368"] Diseases such as this eye with Dry Macular Degeneration might some day respond to new genetic treatments.[/caption] The first step was that the scientists turned the skin cells into Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPS cells), the stem cells derived from skin that have emerged as an alternative to embryonic stem cells. Using chemical techniques, the IPS cells were then morphed into a variety of retinal cells. What is all the more impressive is that some of these retinal cells included rods and cones, ?which are the photoreceptors that translate light signals into electrical signals that our brain interprets as an image. There are several benefits to this new method. First, skin cells are readily available from each patient, thus bypassing most ethical arguments. Second, in diseases that are acquired but not hereditary, the cells are an automatic genetic match. Finally, in diseases that are hereditary, the mutated skin cells could be subjected to various treatments in the laboratory before determining which treatments work and should be applied directly to the patient's eye. Paul Krawitz, M.D., President Vitamin Science Inc

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