Retinitis pigmentosa is a heritable group of blinding diseases resulting from loss of photoreceptors, primarily rods and secondarily cones, that mediate central vision. Loss of retinal vasculature is a presumed metabolic consequence of photoreceptor degeneration. A new study shows that autologous bone marrow–derived lineage-negative hematopoietic stem cells, which incorporate into the degenerating blood vessels in two murine models of retinitis pigmentosa, rd1 and rd10, prevent cone loss. The use of autologous bone marrow might avoid problems with rejection while preserving central cone vision in a wide variety of genetically disparate retinal degenerative diseases.
Lois E.H. Smith