Researchers have been able to discover a new molecular structure that may be used to treat eye problems like retinal degeneration using stem cell technology.
The research had lead to the discovery of a protein called GDF11 that controls an important part of retinal cell differentiation during the developmental stage. This may make it possible to target the protein to replace any lost retinal cells by using the stem cell technology to create new retinal cells.
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have the potential to regenerate self and develop into all types of specialized cells types that may form various types of cells of the tissue from which it was taken.
Researchers are hopeful that their research findings will open the door to devise therapy procedures that will make it possible to restore vision in people who have lost their sense to see because of loss of certain retinal cell types. Drawing parallels from their animal study, the research scientists report that retinal therapy based on the newly discovered protein is possible as the retina contains its own stem cells that can be used to regenerate the cells need to bring back vision to the eyes.
Reference: Science, June 2005