Scientists find recipe to regenerate retinas

Retinal cells
A microscopic view documents how glial cells in the retina can be transformed into functioning neurons. (UW Photo / Tom Reh Lab)

University of Washington researchers have found a way to activate cells in the retinas of adult mice to turn into new neurons – a recipe that eventually could lead to new treatments for human eyes damaged by trauma and disease.

UW biologist Tom Reh, one of the authors of a research paper on the experiments published by the journal Nature, said it’s too early to talk about cures – but not too early to talk about hope.

He told GeekWire that the newly published work on cell conversion complements different approaches that rely on cell transplants.

“I hope that one or the other approach starts to deliver results to patients in the near term,” he said. “We’re working really hard every day to make this work for people.”

Making it work for mice was hard enough.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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