Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Removing a membrane in the eye aids success of stem cell treatment for vision loss

01 February 2021

Slipping Through Cracks

Microscopic walls fortify your body’s components with a robust distrust of outsiders. These make integrating replacements for injured parts difficult. Researchers are trying to bypass these barricades to transplant fresh cells into injured eyes. These cells group together like strands of rope to form the optic nerve, linking eye and brain. When damaged, they can't regenerate, so providing newly-grown replacements may be the only chance to restore sight. Researchers attempting to transplant cells into mouse eye samples found they couldn’t settle in, and remained in a single layer (red, 0-24 seconds in the video). However, a few transplanted cells squeezed through a protective eye membrane where the samples had small residual cuts from the experimental procedure, and began to bed in (25–50s). Further experiments showed removing this layer altogether improved integration of the transplanted cells. Bypassing this barrier could enable new treatments, providing a welcome sight for patients.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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