A miniature scaffold to prevent vision loss

Scientists from Anglia Ruskin University have harnessed nanotechnology to build a miniature structure that mimics the Bruch’s membrane

Transparent cells with vivid orange centres float amid a blue background
Pixabay/Arek Socha

Anglia Ruskin University researchers have used nanotechnology to create a scaffold for growing retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells.

The development could one day assist the development of therapies for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by transplanting RPE cells into the eye.

The study, which was published in Materials & Design, describes how researchers create a scaffold treated with the steroid fluocinolone acetonide to prevent inflammation.

Lead author Professor Barbara Pierscionek, of Anglia Ruskin University, highlighted: “This research has demonstrated, for the first time, that nanofibre scaffolds treated with the anti-inflammatory substance such as fluocinolone acetonide can enhance the growth, differentiation, and functionality of RPE cells.”

Pierscionek added that in the past scientists would grow cells on a flat surface, which was not “biologically relevant.”

“Using these new techniques the cell line has been shown to thrive in the 3D environment provided by the scaffolds,” she said.

Pierscionek highlighted that the system shows “great potential” for development as a substitute to Bruch’s membrane – as a synthetic, non-toxic, biostable support for transplantation of RPE cells.

“Pathological changes in this membrane have been identified as a cause of eye diseases such as AMD, making this an exciting breakthrough that could potentially help millions of people worldwide,” she emphasised.