Immunologically-matched, induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived photoreceptor precursor cells have the potential to restore vision to patients with retinal degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa. The purpose of this study was to develop clinically-compatible methods for manufacturing photoreceptor precursor cells from adult skin in a non-profit cGMP environment. Biopsies were obtained from 35 adult patients with inherited retinal degeneration and fibroblast lines were established under ISO class 5 cGMP conditions. Patient-specific iPSCs were then generated, clonally expanded and validated. Post-mitotic photoreceptor precursor cells were generated using a stepwise cGMP-compliant 3D differentiation protocol. The recapitulation of the enhanced S-cone phenotype in retinal organoids generated from a patient with NR2E3 mutations demonstrated the fidelity of these protocols. Transplantation into immune compromised animals revealed no evidence of abnormal proliferation or tumor formation. These studies will enable clinical trials to test the safety and efficiency of patient-specific photoreceptor cell replacement in humans.
cGMP production of patient-specific iPSCs and photoreceptor precursor cells to treat retinal degenerative blindness.