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

Rare Particle Deals A Blow On Popular Physics Theory

Rare Particle Deals A Blow On Popular Physics TheoryResearchers at the Large Hadron Collider have detected one of the rarest particle decays seen in Nature. The finding deals a significant blow to the theory of physics known as supersymmetry.

‘Undetected dark matter’

Many researchers had hoped the LHC would have confirmed this by now. Supersymmetry, or SUSY, has gained popularity as a way to explain some of the inconsistencies in the traditional theory of subatomic physics known as the Standard Model. The new observation, reported at the Hadron Collider Physics conference in Kyoto, is not consistent with many of the most likely models of SUSY.

Supersymmetry theorises the existence of more massive versions of particles that have already been detected. Their existence would help explain why galaxies appear to rotate faster than the Standard Model would suggest. Physicists have speculated that as well as the particles we know about, galaxies contain invisible, undetected dark matter made up of super particles. The galaxies therefore contain more mass than we can detect and so spin faster.

‘Series of dead ends’

Researchers at the LHCb detector have measured the decay between a particle known as a Bs Meson into two particles known as muons. It is the first time that this decay has been observed and the team has calculated that for every billion times that the Bs Meson decays it only decays in this way three times. If super particles were to exist the decay would happen far more often. This test is one of the “golden” tests for supersymmetry and it is one that on the face of it this hugely popular theory among physicists has failed.

If supersymmetry is not an explanation for dark matter, then theorists will have to find alternative ideas to explain those inconsistencies in the Standard Model. So far researchers who are racing to find evidence of so called “new physics” have run into a series of dead ends.

Do you believe that the theory of supersymmetry will stand? What other possibilities could these scientists discover about super particles?

Source: BBC News

Image: KICP