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Scientists Cure Blindness with Adult Stem Cells


If this breakthrough had occurred with embryonic stem cells, front-page stories would have screamed around the world. But it was adult stem cells and so the reporting is muted. You see, after all these years, this is still how the media judge the newsworthiness of a story.

The story is sensational, nonetheless. Scientists have used adult stem cells to cure blindness, providing what may be a splendid treatment for cataracts as well. From the Telegraph story:

Cataracts can be cured by using a patient's own stem cells to regrow a "living lens" in their eye, restoring sight in just three months, scientists have shown. In research described as "remarkable," surgeons reversed blindness in 12 infants born with congenital cataracts by removing the damaged lens and coaxing nearby cells to repair the damage.

This is great news. And the potential is really exciting:

"An ultimate goal of stem cell research is to turn on the regenerative potential of one's own stem cells for tissue and organ repair and disease therapy," said Dr Kang Zhang, chief of Ophthalmic Genetics and founding director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

"The success of this work represents a new approach in how new human tissue or organ can be regenerated and human disease can be treated, and may have a broad impact on regenerative therapies by harnessing the regenerative power of our own body.

My, how times change. Ten years ago, many in media, politics, and Big Biotech branded embryonic stem cell opponents as "anti-science" for predicting that with adult stem cells, this very scenario would occur.

Image credit: Sandra Höfer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Cross-posted at Human Exceptionalism.