From EurekAlert!: researchers "are the first to regenerate large areas of damaged retinas and improve visual function using IPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells) derived from skin. ... While other researchers have been successful in converting skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and subsequently into retinal neurons, we believe that this is the first time that this degree of retinal reconstruction and restoration of visual function has been detected ... Today, diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are the leading causes of incurable blindness in the western world. In these diseases, retinal cells, also known as photoreceptors, begin to die and with them the eye's ability to capture light and transmit this information to the brain. Once destroyed, retinal cells, like other cells of the central nervous system have limited capacity for endogenous regeneration. ... Stem cell regeneration of this precious tissue is our best hope for treating and someday curing these disorders. ... [Researchers] harvested skin cells from the tails of red fluorescent mice. They used red mice, because the red tissue would be easy to track when transplanted in the eyes of non-fluorescent diseased mice. ... the group generated red fluorescent IPSCs, and, with additional chemical coaxing, precursors of retinal cells. ... Within 33 days the cells were ready to be transplanted and were introduced into the eyes of a mouse model of retina degenerative disease. ... Within four to six weeks, the researchers observed that the transplanted 'red' cells had taken up residence in the appropriate retinal area (photoreceptor layer) of the eye and had begun to integrate and assemble into healthily looking retinal tissue."