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Cell Tissue Res. 2012 Jul;349(1):363-74. doi: 10.1007/s00441-012-1335-6. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

Cell-replacement therapy and neural repair in the retina.

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Hans Berger Clinic of Neurology, University Hospital Jena, Erlanger Allee 101, 07747 Jena, Germany.


Visual impairment severely affects the quality of life of patients and their families and is also associated with a deep economic impact. The most common pathologies responsible for visual impairment and legally defined blindness in developed countries include age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. These conditions share common pathophysiological features: dysfunction and loss of retinal neurons. To date, two main approaches are being taken to develop putative therapeutic strategies: neuroprotection and cell replacement. Cell replacement is a novel therapeutic approach to restore visual capabilities to the degenerated adult neural retina and represents an emerging field of regenerative neurotherapy. The discovery of a population of proliferative cells in the mammalian retina has raised the possibility of harnessing endogenous retinal stem cells to elicit retinal repair. Furthermore, the development of suitable protocols for the reprogramming of differentiated somatic cells to a pluripotent state further increases the therapeutic potential of stem-cell-based technologies for the treatment of major retinal diseases. Stem-cell transplantation in animal models has been most effectively used for the replacement of photoreceptors, although this therapeutic approach is also being used for inner retinal pathologies. In this review, we discuss recent advances in the development of cell-replacement approaches for the treatment of currently incurable degenerative retinal diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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