Researchers generated retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell sheets from human pluripotent stem cells under optimized conditions, to meet clinical use requirements. These RPE cells expressed specific RPE markers and were further used in transplantation experiments in animal models.
On 1 August, researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, will start recruiting patients for the world's first clinical study using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.
Jacob Blumenthal's insight:
Ophthalmologist Masayo Takahashi will be using sheets of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells, derived from iPS cells, to try to halt the progression of age-related macular degeneration. In the wet-type AMD targeted by Takahashi, abnormal vascularization invades and destabilizes the epithelium, which supports the photoreceptors, and causes loss of vision.
To learn more about stem cells differentiation protocols towards retina cells, photoreceptors and RPE:
Scientists at the Waisman center at UW-Madison are growing iPS cells to model pathologies related to neurology, ear, and retina. This article describes the work and interest of each scientist in the center.
Researchers over-expressed ASCL1 in dissociated mouse muler glia (MG) cells, and induced them to upregulate genes related to retinal progenitors and to downregulate glia-related genes. Retinal progenitor cells have the potential to differentiate into photoreceptors and other retina cells. In the future, they can be used to induce regeneration in the retina and to replace injured/damaged retina cells.
Photoreceptors grown from embryonic stem cells have been successfully implanted in the retinas of blind mice
Jacob Blumenthal's insight:
Scientists generated photoreceptor precursor cells from human embryonic stem cells using a three-dimensional (3D) differentiation protocol that generates neuroretina. The researchers demonstrated that rod precursor cells derived by this protocol and selected via a GFP reporter under the control of a Rhodopsin promoter integrate within degenerate retinas of adult mice and mature into outer segment–bearing photoreceptor cells.
Review summary: "Stem cell therapy for retinal disease is under way, and several clinical trials are currently recruiting. These trials use human embryonic, foetal and umbilical cord tissue-derived stem cells and bone marrow-derived stem cells to treat visual disorders such as age-related macular degeneration, Stargardt's disease and retinitis pigmentosa. Over a decade of analysing the developmental cues involved in retinal generation and stem cell biology, coupled with extensive surgical research, have yielded differing cellular approaches to tackle these retinopathies. Here, we review these various stem cell-based approaches for treating retinal diseases and discuss future directions and challenges for the field".
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