By Adrian Galbreth
The age-old fight against blindness has taken another important twist, after experts in the UK helped to restore sight to blind mice – a development which could play a huge role in the battle against sight loss.
Specialists at University College London's Institute of Ophthalmology found that transplanting photoreceptors into the eyes of mice can integrate successfully with the retinal circuitry, making synaptic connections and improving vision.
Research leader Professor Robin Ali said the report, which is published in the journal Nature, is a "landmark" study.
Between four and six weeks after transplantation the cells appeared to have integrated well and formed the necessary connections to transmit visual information to the brain.
Professor Alis explained that mice with the new rod cells could find a hidden platform in a dimly-lit maze using visual clues almost as rapidly as healthy mice.
"It's a proof of concept. What's exciting is that it demonstrates the feasibility of this approach. But it's important to stress we're still a long way from a clinical application in humans," he added.
by Alexa Kaczka