Led by David Lyon, PhD, associate professor of Anatomy & Neurobiology and director of graduate studies at the UCI School of Medicine, the study, titled, “Detailed visual cortical responses generated by retinal sheet transplants in rats with severe retinal degeneration,” reveals that sheets of fetal cells integrate into the retina and generate nearly normal visual activity in the brains of blind rats.
“It’s been known that retinal sheet transplants can integrate into the degenerated eyes and allow the animals to detect light. But, beyond rudimentary light detection it was not known how well the visual system in the brain functioned with the newly integrated retinal transplant,” said Lyon. “In this study, we found that neurons in the primary visual processing center perform as well as neurons in animals with normal healthy retinas. These results show the great potential of retinal transplants to treat retinal degeneration in people.”