Sourcing Stem Cells From the Eye

From CTV News: "Researchers say they have discovered a new source of stem cells at the back of the eye, which they hope may one day provide a way to repair the damage from age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. ... [Researchers] identified the central nervous system stem cells in a single layer called the retinal pigment epithelium, or RPE, which lies behind the retina. ... The researchers salvaged the stem cells from the RPE layer in the eyes of more than 100 deceased donors, who ranged in age from 22 to 99. But the cells can also be isolated from the fluid surrounding the retina at the back of the eye, meaning they're also accessible in living people. ... You can literally go in and poke a needle in the eye and get these cells from the sub-retinal space. It sounds awful, but retinal surgeons do it every day. ... In culture dishes in the lab, the researchers were able to coax about 10 per cent of the RPE-derived stem cells to grow in the lab. Further prodding caused the cells to differentiate into, or give rise to, a variety of cell types - those that make bone, fat or cartilage. [The researchers] also generated a progenitor cell that carries some characteristics of one type of nervous system cell, although it was not fully differentiated. ... But the fact that we could make these cells that were part-way, that were immature, indicates to us that if we keep on manipulating them, going forward in the future, we should be able to find ways to create other types of central nervous system cells."

Link: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Health/20120106/macular-degeneration-stemcells-120106/

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