Tuesday December 11, 2018

Treating blindness with stem cell therapy

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Stem cells will now treat blindness. Pixabay
Stem cells will now treat blindness. Pixabay
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Stem cell-derived retinal cells can now be used to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These advances have been made my a team of scientists led by a person of Indian origin.

Findings

  • Tiny tube-like protrusions called primary cilia on cells of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) — a layer of cells in the back of the eye — are essential for the survival of the retina’s light-sensing photoreceptors.
  • This may help scientists to use induced-pluripotent stem cells to create adult RPE for transplants to treat patients with geographic atrophy, otherwise known as dry AMD.

“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,” said lead researcher Kapil Bharti, Stadtman Investigator at the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The results have been incorporated into the group's protocol for making clinical-grade RPE stem cells. Wikimedia commons
The results have been incorporated into the group’s protocol for making clinical-grade RPE stem cells. Wikimedia commons

How they go about it

  • In geographic atrophy, RPE cells die, which causes photoreceptors to degenerate, leading to vision loss.
  • The team hopes to halt the degeneration and reverse the progression of geographic atrophy, by replacing diseased the RPE with lab-made RPE.
  • The team tested three drugs known to modulate the growth of primary cilia on stem cells-derived RPE.
  • However, these RPE cells have a tendency to get developmentally stuck.
  • 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 induced-pluripotent stem cells-RPE cells.
  • They found that the two drugs known to enhance cilia growth significantly improved the structural and functional maturation of the RPE stem cells, while the cells exposed to the third drug, demonstrated severely disrupted structure and functionality.

The results have been incorporated into the group’s protocol for making clinical-grade RPE stem cells, Bharti said.

The study was published in journal Cell Reports. (IANS)

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New Drug Offers Treatment For Diabetes-Related Blindness

The researchers now plan to conduct a full-scale clinical trial, Gamble said

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New drug offers hope for diabetes-related blindness.

In a major breakthrough, Australian scientists have developed a new drug that offers treatment for people suffering from diabetic retinopathy — the main cause of blindness from diabetes.

The debilitating disease occurs when tiny blood vessels in the retina, responsible for detecting light, leak fluid or haemorrhage.

While treatment options include laser surgery or eye injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), they are not always effective or can result in side effects, highlighting the need for alternative therapeutic approaches.

The team from the Centenary Institute in Sydney developed a novel drug CD5-2, which in mouse models was found to mend the damaged blood retinal barrier and reduce vascular leakage.

“We believe CD5-2 could potentially be used as a stand-alone therapy to treat those patients who fail to respond to the anti-VEGF treatment. It may also work in conjunction with existing anti-VEGF treatments to extend the effectiveness of the treatment,” said lead author Ka Ka Ting from the Institute.

“With limited treatment options currently available, it is critical we develop alternative strategies for the treatment of this outcome of diabetes,” Ting added.

Diabetes
Representational image. Pixabay

The key process involved in diabetic retinopathy pathology is the breakdown of the blood-retinal barrier (BRB), which is normally impermeable. Its integrity relies on how well capillary endothelial cells are bound together by tight junctions. If the junctions are loose or damaged, the blood vessels can leak.

In the study, reported in the journal Diabetologia, CD5-2 was found to have therapeutic potential for individuals with vascular-leak-associated retinal diseases based on its ease of delivery and its ability to reverse vascular dysfunction as well as inflammatory aspects in animal models of retinopathy.

Previous studies have shown that CD5-2 can have positive effects on the growth of blood vessels.

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“This drug has shown great promise for the treatment of several major health problems, in the eye and in the brain,” said Professor Jenny Gamble, head of Centenary’s Vascular Biology Programme.

The researchers now plan to conduct a full-scale clinical trial, Gamble said. (IANS)