Description: The prospect of vision loss is scary and while my parents and grandparents would say things like don’t run with scissors or you cannot have a BB gun (for fear of “putting out an eye”) or make sure you have a good light on when you are reading because “those are the only set of eyes you got”….I have since learned that there are many more things to be afraid of in relation to your vision. How about detached retinas? Retinitis pigmentosa? Or macular degeneration. Now there are some rapid roads to blindness. The scariest thing about all these things is that they are permeant, … not fixable. But what of they were fixable? How cool would that be? Well, read the article linked below for a glimpse of a possible future in this area!
Source: Evidence of restored vision in rats following cell transplant, Science News, ScienceDaily.
Date: November 10, 2018
Image Credit: UCI School of Medicine
So, what do you think? While the description of what the researchers actually did is a bit unclear, essentially, they transplanted a sheet of retina materials into a dysfunctional rat retina and got a functioning mouse retina out of the deal…. a retina transplant. Now we need to think about the many steps still to be done before we can even hope that we have a “fix” for macular degeneration but even just the hint of a possibility is amazing. Of course we need replication, expansions out of a rat model, steps to generalize the results to humans AND ethical reflection. Ethical reflection? Well, where are the replacements parts to come from??? Still…. Wow!
Questions for Discussion:
- What was it exactly that the researchers accomplished?
- What are the immediate implications of the results of this study?
- What are the broader implications of this study (and the related necessary next steps)?
References (Read Further):
Andrzej T. Foik, Georgina A. Lean, Leo R. Scholl, Bryce T. McLelland, Anuradha Mathur, Robert B. Aramant, Magdalene J. Seiler, David C. Lyon. Detailed visual cortical responses generated by retinal sheet transplants in rats with severe retinal degeneration. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2018; 1279-18 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1279-18.2018
Friedman, D. S., O’Colmain, B. J., Munoz, B., Tomany, S. C., McCarty, C., De Jong, P. T., … & Kempen, J. (2004). Prevalence of age-related macular degeneration in the United States. Arch ophthalmol, 122(4), 564-572. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.662.6284&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Hartong, D. T., Berson, E. L., & Dryja, T. P. (2006). https://www.ophed.net/system/files/2010/07/genetics-rp2-2343-2343.pdf Retinitis pigmentosa. The Lancet, 368(9549), 1795-1809.
Davis, R. J., Alam, N. M., Zhao, C., Müller, C., Saini, J. S., Blenkinsop, T. A., … & Lederman, P. L. (2017). The developmental stage of adult human stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium cells influences transplant efficacy for vision rescue. Stem cell reports, 9(1), 42-49.
Garg, A., Yang, J., Lee, W., & Tsang, S. (2017). Stem cell therapies in retinal disorders. Cells, 6(1), 4. https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4409/6/1/4/pdf
Caplan, A., & Purves, D. (2017). A quiet revolution in organ transplant ethics. Journal of medical ethics, medethics-2015. http://www.academia.edu/download/52878705/_Quiet_Revolution_Transplant_JME.pdf