The mice, who had eye diseases caused by genetic defects especially photoreceptor loss, were given the chance to see the light again by transplanting light-sensitive cells into their eyes.
"We have shown for the first time that it is possible to transplant photoreceptors," said the lead author of the surgery, Dr. Robert MacLaren, a scientist and eye surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. "These cells are lost in some of the more common causes of blindness," he added.
This new accomplishment gives scientists the hope that someday in the near future this procedure can be also implemented to people suffering from eye diseases caused by genetic defects.
"Rather than focusing on stem cells, we believed that if we could understand how cells develop and become photoreceptors...our transplantation efforts would meet with greater success," said another co-author of the study, Professor Anand Swaroop, of the University of Michigan Medical School.
"This technique gives us new insights in repairing damage to the retina and possibly other parts of the central nervous system," he added.
The complete study is published online by the journal Nature.
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