Paving the way toward retinal regeneration with mesencephalic astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor
Neurodegenerative diseases are a leading cause of disability worldwide, and despite significant resources put toward the discovery of potential therapeutic targets, there are currently no effective treatments. The rise of methods to derive and propagate stem cells in vitro offered great promise toward the development of cell replacement therapies. Unfortunately, these attempted therapies were stymied by extremely low cell survival and a lack of integration into the pre-existing circuitry due, in part, to an unfavorable environment. A recent report in Science from the laboratories of Heinrich Jasper and Deepak Lamba at the Buck Institute by Neves et al. (1) provides evidence that components of the immune system may underlie the favorability of a tissue microenvironment to cell survival and regeneration. Furthermore, they identify mesencephalic astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor (MANF) as a potential mediator of regenerative favorability.