Is There Light at the End of the Tunnel?
It looks like there might be a light at the end of the tunnel...literally. Medical research and technology seems to have advanced enough to cure the blind! Although the news is not definite just yet, it has been confirmed that scientists at the University College London might have discovered a way to restore eyesight in the blind.
The researches involved in this great breakthrough where able to build light-sensing cells located in the retina. They created them from scratch and by successfully transplanting them into the tiny eyes of blind lab mice they proved that they are one step closer to making this dream for many a reality.
The process followed on mice involved implanting the cells into their eyes where they had a successful connection with the nerves that are responsible for sending visual signals to the brain. Now hopes are that they will be able to run this same process with human beings.
Robin Ali who is the head of the team of researchers involved in this medical advance was very pleased to talk to New Scientist and said that once they have proven that this method would be 100% successful it would allow a great broad range of people suffering from blindness to be treated. It will mainly be of great success to implement in patients that went blind because of degeneration issues in their photoreceptor cells. Diseases such as diabetes and aging can trigger such degeneration.
It took scientists a decade of trial an error and further testing to be able to get to this point. The new forecast is that it will take them an additional five years to be able to implement and test this process on humans. The technique has to be perfected and ironed out to be able to make these embryonic stem cells efficient enough to be transplanted on the human eye.
There is still much testing to be done however, scientists are on a very good track. They will keep treating the eyes of the mice involved and watch out for any new developments. They will also be implanting more cells, as the first attempt did not allow them to use enough of them despite the success in the connection of the cells.
There had been an attempt done previously using stem cells that was able to return a man's vision. However it was only possible due to the fact that the patient still had a few surviving photoreceptors. The main focus of this discovery it to help people that have no photoreceptor cells whatsoever and scientists will keep working to make this happen.
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