MD, or age-related macular degeneration, is a wide range of ocular diseases that affect so many people, it’s downright described as nothing more than a process of aging.
How a Blind Person Can See Again
The study of MD has also proven itself to be useful for understanding how aging works as a whole. In an attempt to repair the damage to eyes and restore them back to a youthful and normal state, MD has quickly become one of the first places that scientists have looked into. In a new paper published online, researchers demonstrate an alternative to stem cells by creating photoreceptors from skin fibroblast cells. It’s a process that promises to be faster, more affordable, and unburdened by any legal or ethical restrictions.
Containing the generic code for every protein people need to repair or build cells, DNA can become damaged over time because of a stressful way of life. Just the way cracks and scratches on a CD prevent lasers from reading the information on it, damaged DNA becomes difficult, and in some cases, even impossible for our RNA to read the genetic information contained therein.
Ph. D. Sai Chavala says that the photoreceptors are the neurons in the eye that turn on visual circuity in response to light that enables us to have vision. The loss of photoreceptors can result in MD and other retinal diseases. They can cause a person to become irreversibly blind. In a study, however, cells called fibroblasts can be reprogrammed to reproduce cells that are similar to photoreceptors. They’re shown to restore the vision of mice.
Sai Chavala and colleagues from the Center for Retina Innovation in Dallas, Texas, discovered a set of compounds that can drive embryonic fibroblast cells to convert themselves into rod-like retinal photoreceptors in both human and mice cells. Dr. Chavala says that stem cell-based strategies are extremely exciting but also adds that generating them can be time-consuming and cumbersome.
These conversions of fibroblasts to photoreceptors have also been done in humans. Dr. Chavala explained that he believes treatments and future research will spring from this discovery.