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Thursday, September 21st 2006

"ACT" Right

Won’t Need These Glasses Anymore

Advanced Cell Technology, the same Cali group which harvested stem cells without destroying the embryo recently, has prevented the progression of a degenerative retinal disease in rats by implanting human stem cells.

Transplanted stem cells produced by the company helped prevent damage to the retinas of rats bred to develop degenerative eye disorders, said researchers including Advanced Cell medical director Robert Lanza. The study was published today in the journal Cloning and Stem Cells.

The research “shows a lot of hope and a lot of potential,” said N.A. Adams, chief of the division of visual physiology at Hopkins’s Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore, in a telephone interview yesterday. The technique is “not at the stage where we can do this in humans, but it certainly does progress the field.”

All the lines used for the retina experiment were able to grow into RPE cells that were injected into the rats’ eyes. After 100 days, the sheet of retinal tissue in the rats that got the injections stayed about five to seven cells deep compared with about one cell of depth in rats that didn’t get the RPE cells. Normal depth is about 10 to 12 cells.

The treated rats were able to see fine details twice as well as the untreated group, based on their response to light stimulation, the researchers said in the study.