A team of American and Chinese scientists investigating the role of stem cells in repairing damaged retinas have found that pigs represent an effective proxy species when developing new treatments for humans.
Published in the Stem Cells journal, the findings demonstrate how stem cells can be isolated and transplanted between pigs, which could pave the way for improved retinal treatments in the future.
Medical science is somewhat limited in what can be done to repair the impact of degenerative disease on the retinas, which lack a regenerative pathway that means research is focussed mainly on transplantation.
"Traditionally, transplant studies have focused on mice and other rodents however, mouse retina tissue is significantly different to the human eye," said lead author Douglas Dean, from the University of Louisville.
He added that the new research "lays a foundation" for future studies of retinal stem cell transplantation, which could bring further good news for patients in years to come.
by Martin Burns