New measurements reveal differences between different stem cells for treating retinal degeneration

St. Jude scientists use new methods to show that one type of stem cell is superior to another for treating retinal degeneration, in research that could significantly advance such treatments.
Stem cell research is one of the most fascinating areas of contemporary biology, but, as with many expanding fields of scientific inquiry, research on stem cells raises scientific questions as rapidly as it generates new discoveries. Although stem cell treatments for retinal degeneration have made it as far as clinical trials, it remains unclear whether the stem cell source affects the production of differentiated cells suitable for transplantation.
To investigate this, a team of scientists generated iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells) from murine rod photoreceptors and quantitatively compared their ability to make retina with embryonic stem cells or fibroblast-derived iPSCs, both of which were found to be less effective. Led by Michael Dyer, of the St. Jude Department of Developmental Neurobiology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, the team has investigated which stem cells are most effective at differentiating into retinae to replace those damaged in diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and Stargardt’s disease. Vision loss from these conditions affects more Americans than those afflicted by cataracts and glaucoma combined.
The research has provided insight into which stem cells should be the focus of future research efforts into retinal degeneration treatment. The technique also proposed a standardized protocol for quantifying the effectiveness of different stem cells, which could be applicable across various specialties. The findings were published the journal Cell Stem Cell.
[Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In addition, in many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell. Induced Pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs) are adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell–like state by being forced to express genes and factors important for maintaining the defining properties of embryonic stem cells……..
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Source: Biotechin.Asia