Study uses healthy skin to create retinal cells in retinitis pigmentosa patients

The study could be “transformational for medical research of any kind”

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A study that uses the skin of retinitis pigmentosa (RP) patients to create healthy retinal cells could lead to treatments being developed for common inherited eye conditions.

The research is taking place at Newcastle University, where it is hoped that findings could lead to advances in treatment for other conditions in the future.

The 12-strong university team is using stem cells from the skin of RP patients who have mutations in the PRPF31 gene to explore the patients’ genetic make-up, allowing them to identify how mutations can affect cells and to recreate defects that lead to patients developing RP.

The first stage of the study was funded by Fight for Sight, and the second stage by Retina UK.

Professor of stem cell science, Majlinda Lako, is leading the project. She said: “For years, there has been no known cure for RP – but we hope we can change that.”

She added: “We are excited to be sharing news of our study and our innovative model to help identify the cause of this condition, with the hope of eventually stopping it from affecting future generations. We really believe what we are doing here could be really transformational for medical research of any kind.”