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Skin cells may be used to restore vision

The findings of a recent study reveal that induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are derived from adult human skin cells may be used to restore vision in people with macular degeneration and retinal diseases. iPS cells have embryonic properties, which means that they can develop into any type of cell. The study involved injecting iPS-derived retina cells into the right eyes of 34 mice that had a genetic mutation that caused their retina cells to degenerate. What researchers discovered was that the human cells assimilated into the mouse retina without any problem and functioned as normal retina cells would. In addition, no tumors developed in the mice which is something that can occur with embryonic stem cells. Researchers hope that a clinical trial for macular degeneration patients will be initiated within the next three years following additional preclinical testing in lab animals. It is hoped that if this therapy would prove to be safe and effective that earlier intervention by using this therapy would prevent vision loss.*

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