Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Stem Cells, Cellular Therapy & Biobanking
>
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Altering Eye Cells May One Day Restore Vision

Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Doctors may one day treat some forms of blindness by altering the genetic program of the light-sensing cells of the eye.

Working in mice with retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that causes gradual blindness, the researchers reprogrammed the cells in the eye that enable night vision. The change made the cells more similar to other cells that provide sight during daylight hours and prevented degeneration of the retina, the light-sensing structure in the back of the eye. The scientists now are conducting additional tests to confirm that the mice can still see.

“We think it may be significantly easier to preserve vision by modifying existing cells in the eye than it would be to introduce new stem cells,” says senior author Joseph Corbo, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and immunology. “A diseased retina is not a hospitable environment for transplanting stem cells.”

The study is available in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mutations in more than 200 genes have been linked to various forms of blindness. Efforts are underway to develop gene therapies for some of these conditions.

Rather than seek treatments tailored to individual mutations, Corbo hopes to develop therapies that can alleviate many forms of visual impairment. To make that possible, he studies the genetic factors that allow cells in the developing eye to take on the specialized roles necessary for vision.

The retina has two types of light-sensing cells or photoreceptors. The rods provide night vision, and the cones sense light in the daytime and detect fine visual details.

In retinitis pigmentosa, the rods die first, leaving patients unable to see at night. Daytime vision often remains intact for some time until the cones also die.

Corbo and others have identified several genes that are active in rods or in cones but not in both types of photoreceptors. He wondered whether turning off a key gene that is activated only in rods could protect the cells from the loss of vision characteristic of retinitis pigmentosa.

’“The question was, when retinitis pigmentosa is caused by a mutation in a protein only active in rods, can we reduce or stop vision loss by making the cells less rod-like?” he explains.

The new study focuses on a protein known as Nrl, which influences development of photoreceptors. Cells that make Nrl become rods, while cells that lack the protein become cones. Turning off the Nrl gene in developing mice leads to a retina packed with cone cells.

To see if this rod-to-cone change was possible in adult mice, Corbo created a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa with an Nrl gene that could be switched on and off by scientists.

“In adult mice, switching off Nrl partially converts the rod cells into cone cells,” he says. “Several months later, when the mutant mice normally had very little vision left, we tested the function of their retina.”

The test showed a healthier level of electrical activity in the retinas of mice that lacked Nrl, suggesting that the mice could still see.

Corbo now is looking for other critical development factors that can help scientists more fully transform adult rods into cones. He notes that if complete conversion of rods to cones were possible, this therapy could also be helpful for conditions where cone cells die first, such as macular degeneration.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Stem Cells Lurking In Tumors Can Resist Treatment
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are studying how cancer stem cells make tumors harder to kill and are looking for ways to eradicate these treatment-resistant cells.
Monday, March 16, 2015
Scientific News
A Gene-Sequence Swap Using CRISPR to Cure Haemophilia
For the first time chromosomal defects responsible for hemophilia have been corrected in patient-specific iPSCs using CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases
Access Denied: Leukemia Thwarted by Cutting Off Link to Environmental Support
A new study reveals a protein’s critical – and previously unknown -- role in the development and progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a fast-growing and extremely difficult-to-treat blood cancer.
New Weapon in the Fight Against Blood Cancer
This strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
Scientists Create CRISPR/Cas9 Knock-In Mutations in Human T Cells
In a project spearheaded by investigators at UC San Francisco, scientists have devised a new strategy to precisely modify human T cells using the genome-editing system known as CRISPR/Cas9.
Zebrafish Reveal Drugs that may Improve Bone Marrow Transplant
Compounds boost stem cell engraftment; could allow more matches for patients with cancer and blood diseases.
New Material Forges the Way for 'Stem Cell Factories'
Researchers have discovered the first fully synthetic substrate with potential to grow billions of stem cells. The researchcould forge the way for the creation of 'stem cell factories' - the mass production of human embryonic (pluripotent) stem cells.
Liver Regrown from Stem Cells
Scientists have repaired a damaged liver in a mouse by transplanting stem cells grown in the laboratory.
Immunotherapy Shows Promise for Myeloma
A strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
'Google Maps' for the Body
Scientists have revealed research that uses previously top-secret technology to zoom through the human body down to the level of a single cell that could be a game-changer for medicine.
Adaptimmune's Novel Cancer Therapeutics Show Positive Clinical Trial Results
The company has announced that positive data from its Phase I/II study of its affinity enhanced T-cell receptor (TCR) therapeutic targeting the NY-ESO-1 cancer antigen in patients with multiple myeloma has been published.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!