University of Montreal Research: Using Stem Cells to Fight AMD
Friday, October 9 2015 | 00 h 00 min | Vision Science
Cone cells produced from embryonic stem cells and transplanted into the retina could be an effective weapon in the fight against AMD, according to recently published research from Professor Gilbert Bernier of the University of Montreal and Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital.
Dr. Bernier’s team developed an effective technique to differentiate human embryonic stem cells into cone cells in vitro. “Our method has the capacity to differentiate 80% of the stem cells into pure cones,” Dr. Bernier explained. “Within 45 days, the cones that we allowed to grow towards confluence spontaneously formed organised retinal tissue that was 150 microns thick. This has never been achieved before.”
To test the efficacy of the transplant procedure, the researchers injected retinal cells into the eyes of healthy mice and found that the photoreceptors naturally migrated to the retina.
“Thanks to our simple and effective approach, any laboratory in the world will now be able to create masses of photoreceptors. Even if there’s a long way to go before launching clinical trials, this means, in theory, that will be eventually be able to treat countless patients,” said Dr. Bernier.
In addition to AMD, Dr. Bernier is hopeful that this breakthrough will lead to treatments for other forms of incurable macular degeneration, such as Stargardt disease.