Researchers from the National Eye Institute (NEI), Bethesda, Maryland have made an advanced approach to create stem cell-derived retinal cells, which is used in the treatment of major cause of blindness.
A team of NEI scientists discovered that the small protrusions like tubes known as primary cilia on the cells’ layer the back portion of eye called as retinal pigment epithelium are crucial for the survival of light-sensing photoreceptors of retina, says new research released in the Cell Reports journal.
This new research has extended the ability of scientists for using the induced-pluripotent stem cells to produce adult retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) for the transplants to help treating patients suffering through geographic atrophy, which is considered as a late stage of dry age- related macular degeneration (AMD), being the main cause for blindness diagnosed in the United States.
Leading investigator of the study, Dr. Kapil Bharti said in a statement given in a press release that, “We now have a better idea about how to generate and replace RPE cells, which appear to be among the first type of cells to stop working properly in AMD. The cells frequently fail to mature into functional RPE capable of supporting photoreceptors. In cases where they do mature, however, RPE maturation coincides with the emergence of primary cilia on the iPSC-RPE cells.”
The RPE cells produced with the help of drugs to properly boost the cilia growth all aligned and inundated the photoreceptor outer segments’ tips, which is a trimming process to maintain proper working of photoreceptors.