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Transplanted Rod Precursor Cells Repair Retina in Mice

Post stem cell-stage cells regenerate damaged retina after transplantation

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Non-dividing rod precursor cells can regenerate new photoreceptor cells when implanted into the adult mouse retina, according to a report in the Nov. 9 issue of Nature. The results suggest a way to regenerate photoreceptors lost from multiple forms of blindness.

Since previous results using stem cells have been unsuccessful in regenerating normal adult retina, Robin Ali, Ph.D., of the University College London in the U.K., and colleagues hypothesized that transplanting cells at a later stage of development might have a higher probability of successful transplantation.

The investigators found that cells extracted at the peak time of rod photoreceptor genesis could integrate into adult or degenerating retina, form rods and synaptic connections, and improve light response in some mouse models of inherited retinal degeneration. The researchers further showed that the cells responsible for regeneration originally came from immature, post-mitotic rod precursors.

"Rather than the environment of the mature retina inhibiting photoreceptor maturation, we show that transplantation of precursor cells at a specific ontogenetic stage…results in their integration and subsequent differentiation into rod photoreceptors, even in retinal degeneration," the authors write.

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