Scientists develop mini retinas using stem cells

King’s College London researchers are developing patches that mimic a functioning macula

female scientist
Fight for Sight
UK researchers are using stem cells to develop patches that could recreate a functioning macula and be transplanted into the retinas of people living with macular disease.

The King’s College London study has received funding from eye research charity, Fight for Sight.

Study lead, Professor Rachael Pearson, said that the research aims to provide a better understanding of human macular formation which can then be used to generate structures for the treatment of macular disease such as age-related macular degeneration.

“To be able to give back any vision to someone who has lost it is so important, but it would be particularly significant to improve vision in the macula, as we are trying to do in this project, because that’s the region upon which we are so dependent on for our high acuity vision. This means reading, seeing people’s faces, all of those tasks which we tend to take for granted. It’s so important for independence,” she highlighted.

The research team has developed protocols for differentiating stem cells and turning them into retinal cells. The team has successfully transformed human stem cells into cone photoreceptors.

The next task is to get the retinal cells to organise spatially in the same manner as the human macula and to line up correctly with the host retina so they can connect and perform their functions.