After demonstrating in rats that they can use human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to halt the decline in and rescue the retinal function of lab animals that model age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Hadassah University Medical Center researchers believe they can start clinical trials on people in two years. AMD - the principal cause of vision loss in residents of the Western world over the age of 50 - occurs when pigmented cells of the macula (center of the retina at the back of the eye) break down and die. The painless disease gradually destroys sharp, central vision, which is needed to see objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving. Some 30 million people around the globe and many tens of thousands of Israelis suffer from AMD, and a growing number are unable to function normally.
An article on the research, by Prof. Benjamin Reubinoff [photo], Prof. Eyal Banin and colleagues, has just appeared in the prestigious scientific journal Cell Stem Cell. They developed a unique technology for the creation of retinal pigment cells from human embryonic stem cells.
This technique is based on Vitamin B3 (also called nicotinamide, which has nothing to do with the dangerous nicotine in tobacco) and a protein called Activin A, which promotes the ripening of the stem cells. When the pigment cells were transplanted into the eyes of rats that suffer from loss of sight because of the dysfunction of retinal pigment cells, they succeeded in halting the growing structural damage to the retina. This part of the eye is the "screen" on which images are displayed and translated into vision by the retina's photoreceptor cells.
Lire l'intégralité de l'article » (Source: article de Judy Siegel-Itzkovich @ The Jerusalem Post)
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