Scientists have demonstrated the capacity to grow specialized neurons that relay visual data to the brain, creating a source of cells for future treatments of glaucoma and other optic neurodegenerative diseases. The research is being presented during a press conference at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Baltimore, Md., on Monday, May 8 from 9:30 – 10:15am.
Using retinal (eye) tissue grown in the lab from mouse stem cells, scientists documented generation of a variety of neurons known as retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Individual RGC subtypes can be identified, and harvested RGCs have been used in transplantation experiments that study the effect of specific RGCs toward neuroprotection and vision restoration.
Prior research has shown that different types of RGCs transmit different types of information through the optic nerve to the brain.