Photoreceptor Cell Replacement
Retinal degenerative diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are currently the leading cause of incurable blindness in the western world. These diseases are characterized by death of the light sensing photoreceptor cells of the outer neural retina. A range of data suggests that the use of stem cells to replace lost photoreceptor cells is now feasible.
Our lab is focused on the development of an autologous patient specific induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) based photoreceptor cell (PR) replacement strategy.
1) iPSC based photoreceptor cell replacement: mouse iPSC-PR transplantation
Newly engrafted rhodopsin positive iPSC derived photoreceptor cells take up residence in the Rhodopsin null mouse retina (A), make new synaptic connections with host bipolar neurons (B) and restore electro retinal function (C, D).
2) iPSC based photoreceptor cell replacement: human iPSC-PR transplantation
Newly engrafted recoverin positive human iPSC derived photoreceptor cells take up residence in the CRB1 null mouse retina (above low mag, below high mag), form inner and outer segment like processes and send axonal projections toward the inner retinal bipolar cells.