The eyes own resources may be able to regenerate retinas damaged by such diseases as age-related macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa, scientists from Schepens Eye Research Institute reported in Marchs Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science.

In recent years, scientists have reported that Mller cells in the retina sometimes exhibit progenitor cell behavior. Specifically, they divide and differentiate into other types of cells, similar to stem cells.

In this study, the researchers injected glutamate and aminoadipate (a derivative of glutamate), two naturally occurring chemicals, into cell cultures and mice. The Mller cells began to divide and proliferate, becoming progenitor cells that eventually generate new retinal neurons and photoreceptors.

Next, the researchers plan to test this process in other animal models to learn if damaged retinas regenerate and vision improves.

Takeda M, Takamiya A, Jiao JW, et al. alpha-Aminoadipate induces progenitor cell properties of Mller glia in adult mice. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2008 Mar;49(3):1142-50.

Vol. No: 145:04Issue: 4/15/2008