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UK research shows potential of cell transplantation for severe retinal degenerations

New research, led by a team at the University of London’s Institute of Ophthalmology, has demonstrated the potential for rod photoreceptor transplantation to restore vision across a range of degenerative retinopathies. The results of the research, published in PNAS (2013, Vol. 110, No. 1, 354-359), show the feasibility of photoreceptor replacement therapy tested in six clinically relevant models of retinal degeneration. The models used in the research vary in regard to the speed of degeneration however, contrary to expectation, the level of photoreceptor integration appeared to be unaffected by either the rate or extent of the degeneration. As a result, the research team suggests that cell transplantation may provide benefit even in severely degenerating retinas.