Recent university studies highlight the use of stem cells to repair vision failure and hearing loss.
Researchers’ findings at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Utah and Oregon Health and Sciences University suggest there may be novel ways to preserve vision in the context of degenerative diseases. Through the use of “formative brain cells that arise in early development,” the cells were shown to guard vision and the cells in the eye that support sight. “This cell type isn’t derived from the retina. It is derived from the brain,” said Gamm the lead author on the study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “But we’re not asking it to become a retina. They survive in the environment of the eye and don’t disrupt the local architecture. They seem to live in a symbiotic relationship with retinal cells.” This new work is preliminary, with much to be done before human testing.
Biology News (03/29/07)
Corneal scars limit vision for hundreds of millions of persons worldwide, and are usually correctable only by surgery. At the McGowan Institute, Dr. James L. Funderburgh is actively researching the physical and biological properties of corneal scar tissue, and the conditions that control its formation. In addition to his research, Dr. Funderburgh is an Associate Professor within the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Ophthalmology. Currently, Dr. Funderburgh is concentrating his research efforts on gaining a better understanding of corneal scar biology so as to develop a method of controlling this pathological process.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
UPMC Eye Center
In the inner ear, there are ~15,000 hair cells—highly specialized cells that enable us to hear a babbling brook or the buzz of a bee. Once these cells are severely damaged, they do not regenerate themselves and normal hearing is lost. Members of the National Center for Regenerative Medicine, Cleveland, OH, have reached a major step in devising a therapy to reverse permanent hearing loss. Researchers believe they have found the cells that have the potential to regenerate the damaged hair cells and restore normal hearing.
Cleveland dBusiness News (04/09/07)
Medical News Today (04/11/07)