Could the retina be repaired using stem cell research?
Chris: In the last twelve months we’ve seen evidence that perhaps it can. The stumbling block at the moment is that perhaps we don’t have the stem cells necessarily, ethically, to do it. Scientists in University College London published a paper in the journal Nature about this time last year. They took mice which had been genetically programmed develop a disease like the human disease, macular degeneration, and they took stem cells from the retina of newborn mice. They implanted these stem cells into the eyes of the mice that had macular degeneration. They were able to show that the mice got back their ability to see. By following where the stem cells went in the eyes they found that they migrated to the right part of the retina and turned back into photo-receptors. These cells take the light and turn it into information that the brain can understand.