For the first time, the scientists succeeded in regenerating cells of the optic nerve of a laboratory mouse. The damaged cells of the optic nerve were grown artificially. The scientific world called this discovery exciting, making it possible to lead to new methods of treating eye diseases. Damage to adult nerve cells associated with vision is irreversible. After the maturation of nerve fibers, the cells lose the ability to regenerate after injury or illness.
The new experiments show how activation of a protein regeneration mechanism known as protrudin can stimulate the growth of the nerve cells after an injury. A new research expanded the scope by revealing potential treatments for glaucoma and a group of complex eye conditions that cause vision loss due to damaged optic nerve.
An ophthalmologist Keith Martin from the University of Melbourne called the result of the experiment the most powerful regeneration of all previously possible techniques. Not long ago it seemed impossible, but the new research demonstrated the potential of gene therapy. Previous attempts to restore vision to mice in the laboratory ended with resounding success.
The scientists began to conduct the first experiments in 2016. Since then, they have managed to grow part of the retinal ganglion cells of adult mice. New nerve cells formed in the back of the eye were able to connect to the right side of the brain and interact tightly.
Thus, the scientists supplemented the results of a study conducted in 2012, when it was possible to restore the so-called simple vision in adult mice after regeneration along the entire length of the optical path. In the latest study, the scientists stimulated nerve cells in the eye to protect them from damage and repair them after an injury.
To do that, they increased the production of protrudin by stimulating the regeneration of nerve cells that were treated with a laser. Adult mice were then injected directly into the eye as gene therapy to increase the production of protrudins. The scientists believe that such a procedure can be performed safely and effectively in humans.