Researchers recently demonstrated that human blood cells can be converted into a variety of eye cells important for vision. Immune cells, isolated from participants’ blood samples, were induced to become pluripotent stem cells. The researchers then induced the new stem cells to become structures resembling eye tissues, such as the retina and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Many blinding eye diseases are caused by degeneration of cells in these tissues. Researchers hope that patients’ blood cells could eventually be used to generate replacement tissues for damaged eyes and for studying diseases.
For more information visit: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22410558
By Christopher G. Thomas, Ph.D.