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Retinal tissue successfully grown from human stem cells

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Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have successfully grown human retinal tissue from stem cells. This successful experiment offers hope that one day a retinal transplant might be possible. While there are treatments for macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, these treatments can only slow down the progression of the diseases. A retinal transplant would restore vision. The retinal tissue was created using pluripotent stem cells. These stem cells have the ability of forming nearly any tissue in the body. Researchers were able to regress mature body cells back into the pluripotent stem cells from which they originated, a process known as "reprogramming". Creating the pluripotent stem cells involved taking a white blood cell from a blood sample. This ability to use a patient's blood is convenient and researchers believe the new technology is a great step forward in treating macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

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