Eye Research Leaps Forward As Scientists Grow Retina Structures from Stem Cells

Scientists Make Big Leap in Eye Research by Growing Retina Structures

Scientists Make Big Leap in Eye Research by Growing Retina Structures

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March 14 2012 2:44 PM

Scientists Make Big Leap in Eye Research by Growing Retina Structures

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Scientists have made a breakthrough in research that could help a long list of eye illness and even someday replace dammaged retinal cells in patients.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Could synthetic stem cells mean the end of certain forms of blindness?

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin have created basic retina structures, giving hope to many with eye damage that their vision could be repaired someday.

The retina structures were created by synthesizing stem cells from a patient's blood, and successfully sent important information to the brain that helps humans see.

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Scientists can create the stem cells from a simple blood test, and the ability to build the retina structures from the cells—and isolate which layers need repair—will allow researchers to further study degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa.

The study is still in its primordial phases, but it could lead to some big leaps forward in research and maybe even some day the ability to generate new cells for patients whose eyes are going bad. Just think: Someday grandma may stop asking you where she put her reading glasses!

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.