Monday October 22, 2018

Treating blindness with stem cell therapy

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Stem cells will now treat blindness. Pixabay
Stem cells will now treat blindness. Pixabay
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Stem cell-derived retinal cells can now be used to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These advances have been made my a team of scientists led by a person of Indian origin.

Findings

  • Tiny tube-like protrusions called primary cilia on cells of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) — a layer of cells in the back of the eye — are essential for the survival of the retina’s light-sensing photoreceptors.
  • This may help scientists to use induced-pluripotent stem cells to create adult RPE for transplants to treat patients with geographic atrophy, otherwise known as dry AMD.

“We now have a better idea about how to generate and replace RPE cells, which appear to be among the first type of cells to stop working properly in AMD,” said lead researcher Kapil Bharti, Stadtman Investigator at the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The results have been incorporated into the group's protocol for making clinical-grade RPE stem cells. Wikimedia commons
The results have been incorporated into the group’s protocol for making clinical-grade RPE stem cells. Wikimedia commons

How they go about it

  • In geographic atrophy, RPE cells die, which causes photoreceptors to degenerate, leading to vision loss.
  • The team hopes to halt the degeneration and reverse the progression of geographic atrophy, by replacing diseased the RPE with lab-made RPE.
  • The team tested three drugs known to modulate the growth of primary cilia on stem cells-derived RPE.
  • However, these RPE cells have a tendency to get developmentally stuck.
  • The cells frequently fail to mature into functional RPE capable of supporting photoreceptors. In cases where they do mature, however, RPE maturation coincides with the emergence of primary cilia on the induced-pluripotent stem cells-RPE cells.
  • They found that the two drugs known to enhance cilia growth significantly improved the structural and functional maturation of the RPE stem cells, while the cells exposed to the third drug, demonstrated severely disrupted structure and functionality.

The results have been incorporated into the group’s protocol for making clinical-grade RPE stem cells, Bharti said.

The study was published in journal Cell Reports. (IANS)

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Consuming Mediterranean Diet Prevents Risk of Age-related Blindness

The entire pattern of eating a nutrient-rich diet, instead of individual food varieties such as fish, fruits and vegetables, helps significantly curb the risk of late AMD, the researchers noted

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Mediterranean Food, (representational Image) Wikimedia

Consuming a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, potatoes, olive oil, seeds, fish, low saturated fat, dairy products and red meat can help prevent potential blindness in later stages of life, a study has found.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative eye disease and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older.

It causes loss of central vision, which is crucial for simple everyday activities, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, and write.

In analysing the connection between genes and lifestyle on the development of AMD, researchers from the European Union found that people who adhered to a Mediterranean diet cut their risk of late-stage AMD by 41 per cent.

The findings, published in the journal Ophthalmology, expands on previous studies and suggests that such a diet is beneficial for everyone, whether you already have the disease or are at risk of developing it.

Mediterranean Diet
Mediterranean Diet. Pixabay

“I believe this is a public health issue on the same scale as smoking. Chronic diseases such as AMD, dementia, obesity, and diabetes, all have roots in poor dietary habits. It’s time to take quitting a poor diet as seriously as quitting smoking,” said Emily Chew, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Previous research has linked Mediterranean diet to a longer lifespan and a reduced incidence of heart disease and cognitive decline.

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For the new study, the team analysed food-frequency questionnaires from nearly 5,000 people who participated in two investigations focused separately on disease risks in people aged 55 and older and the links between eye diseases and nutritional factors in people aged 73 and older.

The entire pattern of eating a nutrient-rich diet, instead of individual food varieties such as fish, fruits and vegetables, helps significantly curb the risk of late AMD, the researchers noted. (IANS)

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