Degeneration of photoreceptors (rod and cone cells) is a leading cause of vision loss. Since there are no effective treatments to restore vision once photoreceptors are lost, photoreceptor regeneration has the very real prospect of alleviating blindness in these eyes.
To that end, a recent innovative study has demonstrated the possibility of reprogramming Müller glial cells into photoreceptors without passing through an intermediate stem cell state. Müller cells are normally assigned to support and protect the photoreceptors.
Previous studies have shown how glial cells can be reprogrammed into different types of nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord and retina. Now this study aims to highlight a reprogramming technology to convert Müller cells directly into photoreceptors. The technique uses transcription factors to promote reprogramming, an approach that could have a significant effect on the treatment of a wide range of retinal diseases.
Source: “Using cell reprogramming technology to convert Müller glitter into photoreceptors”. Raymond Ching Bong Wong, et al (Abstract #4578-A0167, Association for Research in Ophthalmology annual convention) June 2018.