A team of UK scientists believe that a special type of cell found in the eye may be able to regenerate damaged retina in humans.
Muller glial cells have been shown to regenerate the retina in zebrafish and a new study, published in the journal Stem Cells, suggests that they have properties similar to stem cells and are therefore able to develop into a range of different types of cell.
Researchers from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital have been studying the cells and lead researcher Dr Astrid Limb said that the findings have "enormous potential".
She explained: "Muller cells with stem cell properties could potentially restore sight to someone who is losing or has lost their sight due to diseased or damaged retina.
"It may be possible to store the cells in a cell bank and transplant them into the eye or to use cells from a person's own eye."
Diseases that damage the retina - such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetes - are responsible for three quarters of registered blindness in the UK.
The researchers hope that a new treatment may be ready within five to ten years.
© Adfero Ltd
Treatment news : 03/08/2007