Diseases involving retinal degeneration typically terminate with permanent photoreceptor loss, so any strategy to save or replace these sensory neuronal subtypes would be critical to correcting the diseased state. Here, Sai Chavala and colleagues identify five compounds that induce fibroblasts into rod-like photoreceptors that exhibit transcriptional signatures similar to healthy photoreceptors. These reprogrammed cells could then be transplanted into diseased retinas to partially restore limited visual function.
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