A group of researchers finally created a macular degeneration stem cell model. This is a huge success in the field of stem cell research and indicates progress. So, what is the impact of creating a stem cell model for macular degeneration? According to this report by The Association of Optometrists, this could pave the way to the development of new treatments for the condition.

New Stem Cell Model Can Improve Vision Loss Research | The Stem Cell Model of Macular Degeneration Is Finally Created

New Stem Cell Model Can Improve Vision Loss Research

Scientists have used stem cells to create a model of macular degeneration for the first time.

In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the University of Rochester researchers collected skin cells from patients with genetic forms of macular degeneration.

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Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness among people over 50. The condition has no immediate cure but there are treatments that delay its progression. This new stem cell model might be the key to developing a cure for macular degeneration.


Understanding Macular Degeneration

Understanding Macular Degeneration | The Stem Cell Model of Macular Degeneration Is Finally Created

Macular degeneration damages the macula, the part of the eye which focuses our central vision. People affected by this have difficulty seeing details. They also gradually lose sight abilities such as reading, facial recognition, and seeing colors.

Aside from aging as a common cause, people with a family history of the disease have a higher risk of getting the condition. Other risk factors include being Caucasian and smoking.

While there is no immediate cure for macular degeneration due to old age, treatments to delay or prevent visual loss are available. People who are at risk can also change their lifestyle to slow the progression. But they cannot completely reverse the disease. Experts have identified the risk factors and the general concept of the disease. But its specific causes are still unknown. It is little understood why the cells in the macula deteriorate to begin with.

Significance Of The Stem Cell Model

A group of researchers from the University of Rochester derived retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells from skin cells. The researchers got them from patients who are genetically predisposed to the disease. The skin cells were then reprogrammed to become stem cells. As the cells aged in a dish, it became more apparent they had characteristics of macular degeneration. This is the first patient-derived human cell model for this condition.
Stem cell research has the potential to find the cure for age-related macular degeneration. But studying the key components of the condition has been a struggle. With this study, however, experts have the chance to find missing puzzle pieces. After all, the model is similar to actual human cells.

This is exactly what makes the newly created stem cell model special—it shares observable traits that are similar to ‘real’ human cells. The model will increase the possibilities of exploring macular degeneration more throughly. Currently, the model has limitations but one day researchers hope to use it as a tool for developing new treatments for degenerative eye conditions. It may also serve as a better model for drug testing.

With this study, its only a matter of time  before visual loss in old age will be a thing of the past.


This YourekaScience will walk you through the promise of stem cell research in curing macular degeneration:

The Stem Cell Model of Macular Degeneration Is Finally Created

What do you think of the stem cell model for macular degeneration? Tell us in the comments section!

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