Totally Blind Mice Regain Sight After Chemical Injection

Totally Blind Mice Regain Sight After Chemical InjectionTotally blind mice have had their sight restored by injections of light-sensing cells into the eye, UK researchers .

‘First proof’

The research team, at the University of Oxford, used mice with a complete lack of light-sensing photoreceptor cells in their retinas. The mice were unable to tell the difference between light and dark. They injected “precursor” cells which will develop into the building blocks of a retina once inside the eye. Two weeks after the injections a retina had formed, according to the findings presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

Prof Robert MacLaren said: “We have recreated the whole structure, basically it’s the first proof that you can take a completely blind mouse, put the cells in and reconstruct the entire light-sensitive layer.”


‘Safe but reliable’

Previous studies have achieved similar results with mice that had a partially degenerated retina. Prof MacLaren said this was like “restoring a whole computer screen rather than repairing individual pixels”. Prof Robin Ali published research in the journal Nature showing that transplanting cells could restore vision in night-blind mice and then showed the same technique worked in a range of mice with degenerated retinas.

He said: “These papers demonstrate that it is possible to transplant photoreceptor cells into a range of mice even with a severe level of degeneration… I think it’s great that another group is showing the utility of photoreceptor transplantation.”

Researchers are already trialling human embryonic stem cells, at Moorfields Eye Hospital, in patients with Stargardt’s disease. Early results suggest the technique is safe but reliable results will take several years. Retinal chips or bionic eyes are also being trailed in patients with retinitis pigmentosa.

Do you think this study will ultimately lead to a cure for blindness? Share your thoughts and opinions below!

Source: James Gallagher, BBC News

Image: Spiked Nation

Many Human ‘Prototypes’ Discovered In Africa

Fossils from Northern Kenya show that a new species of human lived two million years ago, researchers say. The discoveries suggests that at least three distinct species of humans co-existed in Africa. The research has been published in the journal Nature.

Anthropologists have discovered three human fossils that are between 1.78 and 1.95 million years old. The specimens are of a face and two jawbones with teeth. The finds back the view that a skull found in 1972 ago is of a separate species of human, known as Homo rudolfensis. The skull was markedly different to any others from that time. It had a relatively large brain and long flat face.

But for 40 years the skull was the only example of the creature and so it was impossible to say for sure whether the individual was an unusual specimen or a member of a new species. With the discovery of the three new fossils researchers can say with more certainty that H.rudolfensis really was a separate type of human that existed around two million years ago alongside other species of humans.


For a long time the oldest known human ancestor was thought to be a primitive species, dating back 1.8 million years ago called Homo erectus. They had small heads, prominent brows and stood upright. But 50 years ago, researchers discovered an even older and more primitive species of human called Homo habilis that may have coexisted with H. erectus. Now it seems H. rudolfensis was around too and raises the distinct possibility that many other species of human also existed at the time.

This find is the latest in a growing body of evidence that challenges the view that our species evolved in a smooth linear progression from our primate ancestors. In other groups of animals many different species evolve, each with new traits, such as plumage, or webbed feet. If the new trait is better suited to the environment then the new species thrives, if not it becomes extinct.

Do you believe in the theory of human evolution? What could this new discovery mean for human history?

Source: BBC News

Image: Australian Museum