(Press-News.org) Boston, MA— Scientists from Schepens Eye Research Institute are the first to regenerate large areas of damaged retinas and improve visual function using IPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells) derived from skin. The results of their study, which is published in PLoS ONE this month, hold great promise for future treatments and cures for diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy and other retinal diseases that affect millions worldwide.
"We are very excited about these results," says Dr. Budd A. Tucker, the study's first author. "While other researchers have been successful in converting skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and subsequently into retinal neurons, we believe that this is the first time that this degree of retinal reconstruction and restoration of visual function has been detected," he adds. Tucker, who is currently an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine, completed the study at Schepens Eye Research Institute in collaboration with Dr. Michael J. Young, the principle investigator of the study, who heads the Institute's regenerative medicine center.
Today, diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are the leading causes of incurable blindness in the western world. In these diseases, retinal cells, also known as photoreceptors, begin to die and with them the eye's ability to capture light and transmit this information to the brain. Once destroyed, retinal cells, like other cells of the central nervous system have limited capacity for endogenous regeneration.
"Stem cell regeneration of this precious tissue is our best hope for treating and someday curing these disorders," says Young, who has been at the forefront of vision stem cell research for more than a decade.
While Tucker, Young and other scientists were beginning to tap the potential of embryonic and adult stem cells early in the decade, the discovery that skin cells could be transformed into "pluripotent" cells, nearly identical to embryonic cells, stirred excitement in the vision research community. Since 2006 when researchers in Japan first used a set of four "transcription factors" to signal skin cells to become iPSCs, vision scientists have been exploring ways to use this new technology. Like embryonic stem cells, iPSCs have ¬the ability to become any other cell in the body, but are not fraught with the ethical, emotional and political issues associated with the use of tissue from human embryos.
Tucker and Young harvested skin cells from the tails of red fluorescent mice. They used red mice, because the red tissue would be easy to track when transplanted in the eyes of non-fluorescent diseased mice.
By forcing these cells to express the four Yamanaka transcription factors (named for their discoverer) the group generated red fluorescent IPSCs, and, with additional chemical coaxing, precursors of retinal cells. Precursor cells are immature photoreceptors that only mature in their natural habitat—the eye.
Within 33 days the cells were ready to be transplanted and were introduced into the eyes of a mouse model of retina degenerative disease. Due to a genetic mutation, the retinas of these recipient mice quickly degenerate, the photoreceptor cells die and at the time of transplant electrical activity, as detected by ERG (electroretinography), is absent.
Within four to six weeks, the researchers observed that the transplanted "red" cells had taken up residence in the appropriate retinal area (photoreceptor layer) of the eye and had begun to integrate and assemble into healthily looking retinal tissue.
The team then retested the mice with ERG and found a significant increase in electrical activity in the newly reconstructed retinal tissue. In fact, the amount of electrical activity was approximately half of what would be expected in a normal retina. They also conducted a dark adaption test to see if connections were being made between the new photoreceptor cells and the rest of the retina. In brief, the group found that by stimulating the newly integrated photoreceptor cells with light they could detect a signal in the downstream neurons, which was absent in the other untreated eye.
Based on the results of their study, Tucker and Young believe that harvesting skin cells for use in retinal regeneration is and will continue to be a promising resource for the future.
The two scientists say their next step will be to take this technology into large animal models of retinal degenerative disease and eventually toward human clinical trials.INFORMATION:
Other scientists involved in the PLoS ONE study include In-Hyun Park, Sara D. Qi, Henry J. Klassen, Caihui Jiang, Jing Yao, Stephen Redenti, and George Q. Daley.
Schepens Eye Research Institute, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is the largest independent eye research institute in the nation.
Richmond, Va. (May 16, 2011) – Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center have discovered a new biomarker related to the body's immune system that can predict a breast cancer patients' risk of cancer recurrence. This breakthrough may lead to new genetic testing that further personalizes breast cancer care.
The study, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, is the first to use tumor infiltrating immune cells located at the site of the tumor to predict cancer recurrence. Using tissue samples from breast cancer patients, ...
Golden Riviera Online Casino has just announced the launch of its latest Multi-Player Video Slot game, No Worries. Based on a five-reel, nine-payline single player version of the game, this new adaptation of the game is sure to open up a new dimension of gaming for players. In addition to the rewards that players can win in the base game, gamers can now communicate amongst themselves with the Chat Function and compete for a Jackpot Bonus Prize, which occurs periodically.
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Most people don't think worms are cool. But the tiny flatworm that Northwestern University scientist Christian Petersen studies can do something very cool indeed: it can regenerate itself from nearly every imaginable injury, including decapitation. When cut in half, it becomes two worms.
This amazing ability of the planarian flatworm to regenerate its entire body from a small wedge of tissue has fascinated scientists since the late 1800s. The worms can regrow any missing cell or tissue -- muscle, neurons, epidermis, eyes, even a new brain.
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CHESTNUT HILL, MA (5/16/2011) – The visual power of a brand can be the first breakthrough companies make with their customers. But efforts to artistically manipulate the typeface of a corporate logo can backfire for firms, according to a Boston College researcher.
Consumers may perceive companies that use incomplete typeface logos — such as the horizontal baby blue stripes that form the letters IBM — as innovative. However, these firms run the risk of being viewed as untrustworthy, according to a report forthcoming in the July issue of the Journal of Marketing.
The City of Akron, OH is launching RingGo Pay by Cell Phone service beginning May 17, 2011. In collaboration with Ampco System Parking, Akron's parking operator, the new service is available for all of the city's on street meters and its downtown parking lots.
This state-of-the-art system will make paying for parking far more convenient for Akron's residents and visitors. Instead of hunting for quarters or standing in snow-covered streets to insert coins or a credit card in a meter or pay station, drivers simply dial the access phone number from their cell phones -- ...
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a super-resolution microscopy technique that is answering long-held questions about exactly how and why a cell's defenses fail against some invaders, such as plague, while successfully fending off others like E.coli. The approach is revealing never-before-seen detail of the cell membrane, which could open doors to new diagnostic, prevention and treatment techniques.
"We're trying to do molecular biology with a microscope, but in order to do that, we must be able to look at things on a molecular ...
New Rochelle, NY, May 16, 2011—Ongoing, intrinsic brain activity that is not task-related accounts for the majority of energy used by the human brain. This surprising finding, along with other recent discoveries about the brain and its function, structure, and organization, are described in "The Restless Brain," an Instant Online article in the groundbreaking new neuroscience journal Brain Connectivity, a bimonthly peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com). "The Restless Brain," seven additional articles from the first issue, and a full ...
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ROOTSTOWN, Ohio—May 16, 2011—Ohioans broadly support a strong commitment to medical and health research and recognize its direct link to job creation and the state's and the nation's economy, according to a new statewide poll conducted by IBOPE Zogby for Research!America and Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED).
A strong majority of Ohioans (86%) thinks medical and health research is important—42% say very important—to the state's economy. Eight in 10 believe spending money on scientific research is important to Ohio's economy in terms of jobs and incomes.
An international team of researchers, led by scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and the Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Hospital in China, say a human gene implicated in the development of leukemia also acts to prevent cancer of the liver.
Writing in the May 17 issue of the journal Cancer Cell, Gen-Sheng Feng, PhD, UCSD professor of pathology, and colleagues in San Diego, Shanghai and Turin report that an enzyme produced by the human gene PTPN11 appears to help protect hepatocytes (liver cells) from toxic damage and death. Conversely, ...