The blind will be able to see. Scientists have found a way to cure blindness with the help of “mini-eyes” from a test tube
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During the study, scientists created the world's first artificial retinas.
“Test-tube-grown eyes” may sound like science fiction, but it seems that scientists have actually made a breakthrough in the treatment of blindness. The world's first artificial retinas are supposed to help fight a major form of blindness, writes the Daily Mail.
In the study, scientists from University College London took skin cells from young patients with Usher syndrome, who suffer from a rare genetic disease. After they were reprogrammed to create stem cells that can replace any cell in the human body.
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Next, the researchers simulated in the laboratory the processes observed in babies in the womb for 9 months. As a result, they managed to force seven types of cells to form a pattern, actually becoming a mini-retina – in fact, scientists recreated a thin layer around the eyeball that is able to capture light.
During the study, scientists were finally able to see what happens with Usher's syndrome – a genetic disease that results in blindness and deafness. It turned out that Mueller cells, which cross the retina and provide energy to the eyes, play an important role in this process.
Scientists believe that this study is another proof that Muller cells play an important role in all types of retinal degeneration. Presumably, this is due to their damage – as a result, they lose their ability to support light-sensitive retinal cells properly.
According to Jane Sowden, a professor of developmental biology and genetics at the Institute of Child Health at the University of California, growing “mini eyes” in the laboratory is indeed a breakthrough in the field. The scientist is confident that in the next 10 years this will reverse hereditary blindness.
During the study, scientists created mini-retinas from stem cells from three children suffering from Usher syndrome. By examining the mini-eyes, which are only about one millimeter in size, the scientists found that there were early problems with light-sensitive rods across. This was not observed in mini-eyes made from stem cells from healthy children.
Scientists realized that Muller cells were the main problem – they were damaged and literally “died” due to a genetic error. In total, about 40,000 cells in mini-eyes were analyzed. In the course of research, scientists turned their attention to RNA, a molecule that converts some data from DNA into proteins.
Researchers hope that in the foreseeable future they will be able to develop a drug that could block this process in the retina, leading to blindness .