A group of researchers have suggested that adult stem cells taken from the donated eyes of dead people may be able to give sight to the blind. Tests in rats showed that the human cells can restore some vision to completely blind rats. The team at University College London said similar results in humans would improve quality of life, but would not give enough vision to read.
The research team extracted a special kind of cell called Muller glial cells. They are a type of adult stem cell capable of transforming into the specialised cells in the back of the eye and may be useful for treating a wide range of sight disorders.
In the lab, the cells were transformed into rod cells that detected light in the retina, and injecting the rods into the backs of the eyes of completely blind rats partially restored their vision.
Brain scans showed that 50 percent of the electrical signals between the eye and the brain made a recovery after the treatment. Researchers believe the cells might be able to help patients with disorders such as macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa.
[The study has been published in journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.]