ONE DAY A SKIN CELL, THE NEXT AN OPTIC NERVE
Scientists eye up treating and even curing glaucoma after reprogramming skin and stem cells
A small skin donation might one day replace retinal cells lost to glaucoma, after research uncovers how to turn a skin cell into a nerve cell.
In the meantime, the finding is helping the Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis team to test several promising therapies for glaucoma.
For a long time, the process of a stem cell transforming into its final state – whether that was a skin, liver, bone or brain cell – was a one-way process.
In a study, published this week in the journal Stem Cells, the US research team are the latest to reverse this process. Taking skin cells biopsied from healthy volunteers as well as donors with an inherited form of glaucoma, the team were able to reprogramme them back to their pluripotent stem cell state.
They were then able to direct these newly created stem cells to become retinal ganglion cells. The cells made from the glaucoma patients had distinct differences from those of the healthy volunteers.
Research leader and university assistant professor, Dr Jason Meyer, explained: “The cells became unhealthy and started dying off at a much faster rate than those of healthy individuals.”……
Read more: https://www.aop.org.uk/ot/science-and-vision/research/2016/03/24/one-day-a-skin-cell-the-next-an-optic-nerve