Porcine stem cell transplantation: the key to future research on retinal therapy

A research team composed of American and Chinese scientists studied the role of stem cells in repairing damaged retinal tissue. The study found that pigs can be used as an effective alternative species for human treatment. This study, published in Stem Cells, explains how to isolate stem cells and transplant them between pigs, overcoming an important obstacle in this study.

For medical science, the treatment of repairing the human retina suffering from degenerative diseases remains a huge challenge. Unlike lower vertebrates, the human retina lacks a regenerative pathway, which means that the focus of research is on cell transplantation.

"The retina is the light-sensitive tissue around the inner surface of the eye. Its outer layer is composed of rod-shaped and cone-shaped photoreceptor cells that can convert light signals," said Douglas Douglas, lead author from the University of Louisville Dean (Douglas Dean) said. "Due to the diversity of genetic material it represents, traditional transplantation research focuses on the use of mice and other rodents. However, mouse retinal tissue is mainly composed of rod-shaped cells, which is quite different from the human eye."

Dr. Dean ’s research team turned their attention to pigs because, like humans, pig eyes contain a predominantly tapered central visual band that allows them to better match anatomy and physiology.

"In the past, research on pig models has been hindered," Dean said. "Because people have not isolated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for such transplantation from pigs. At the same time, they are related to host photoreceptor cells Capacitiveness has not been confirmed. "

Dr. Dean ’s research team collected induced pluripotent stem cells from porcine skin fibroblasts. Studies have shown that these cells differentiate in culture and can integrate with the retinal cells of the second pig.

Although only a small part of the retina was transplanted in this study, because researchers can study more effective alternative human species, the results of this study can open up a new research approach for degenerative diseases.

"Our results show that porcine stem cells can integrate into the damaged porcine neural retina," Dr. Dean concluded. "This study lays the foundation for future research on retinal stem cell transplantation in pig models."

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