A woman in her 80s has become the first person to be successfully treated with induced pluripotent stem (#iPS) cells. A slither of laboratory-made retinal cells has protected her eyesight, fighting her age-related macular degeneration – a common form of progressive blindness.
Such stem cells can be coaxed to form many other types of cell. Unlike other types of stem cell, such as those found in an embryo, induced pluripotent ones can be made from adult non-stem cells – a discovery that earned a Nobel prize in 2012.
Now, more than a decade after they were created, these stem cells have helped someone. Masayo Takahashi at the RIKEN Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration in Kobe, Japan, and her team took# skin cells from the woman and turned them into iPS cells. They then encouraged these to form retinal pigment epithelial cells, which are important for supporting and nourishing the retina cells that capture light for vision.
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