Advance in Tissue Engineering for Vision Loss

MAY 03, 2016
Ellen Kurek
One obstacle to moving stem cells from the lab to the ophthalmology clinic has been an inability to view the structures these cells form and to assess how individual cells function in them without destroying them in the process. Because non-destructive imaging and functional assessment methods are needed to control cell quality and maximize production efficiency, these methods must be developed before stem cells can be used widely to treat retinal degeneration and screen eye drugs.
This week Andrew Browne, MD, PhD, of the Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute reported on work he did last year at the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles. With Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Browne’s USC team tested several advanced methods for imaging retinal structures grown from human embryonic stem cells (hESC). Browne reported the results of these tests at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA, on May 3, 2016. The team’s results were also published in an abstract included in the ARVO proceedings.
The development of retinal spheroids into sophisticated layered structures over time was the focus of the investigation. hESC can be induced to form such spheroids, which are composed of an empty core surrounded by several layers including a surface layer of photoreceptor cells. These spheroids are being developed for use in tissue engineering aimed at preventing or treating vision loss.

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