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Engineering and imaging for the future delivery of stem cells to the retina...
Tue 14 March 2017, 18:00 – 19:00 GMT
Speaker: Professor Lyndon da Cruz
Age-related Macular Degeneration whether in wet or dry form and many other acquired or genetic retinal diseases are eventually dominated by cell loss and consequent vision loss. Neural loss of any type including that of the retina has always been considered irreversible as these cells rarely retain the ability to regenerate. The recent identification of stable stem cell sources and the advances in stem cell technology have transformed this area of research science into an important area of strong therapeutic possibility.
These sources include human embryonic stem cells (hESC), induced pleuripotent stem cell sources (iPS) as well as adult sources. The main advantage of using a stem cell source is that there is an infinite capacity to reproduce and therefore an infinite capacity to produce cells, including neural cells for transplantation. The challenge more recently has been to transform these stem cells into differentiated cells that are useful for transplantation in disease. In terms of the retina, hESC have been successfully developed into retinal pigment epithelial cells. These cells have been characterised as identical to native human RPE cells structurally, functionally and biochemically. Previous studies of macular translocation and RPE/choroidal transplantation have shown that vision loss from AMD can be reversed. Early animal studies show that the transplanted HESC RPE survive and can prevent vision loss in animal models of disease. Initial hESC based RPE transplantation trials using suspension cultures were successful in demonstrating safety of the cells in the context of disease and sub-retinal delivery. More recently, we have carried out the first 2 transplantations of sheets of hESC based RPE on a coated artificial Bruch’s membrane, in the London Project’s RPE transplantation trial, with promising results. As well as RPE – Bruch’s transplantation I will also briefly discuss the recent advances in neuro-retinal and vascular reconstructions using stem cells, which will be necessary if this area of research medicine is to genuinely contribute to the treatment of retinal disease.
With the advent of these new cellular therapies there is a pressing need for engineering solutions in terms of precise delivery of the cells and reconstructed tissues as well as the accurate imaging of the diseased retina preoperatively, in order to plan delivery. This seminar will also briefly discuss the recent advances in neuro-retinal and vascular reconstructions using stem cells, which will be necessary if this area of research medicine is to genuinely contribute to the treatment of retinal disease.
Speaker Bio: Professor Lyndon da Cruz did both his medical undergraduate and doctorate trainings at
the University of Western Australia. He carried out his post doctoral research on the Howard Florey fellowship (NHMRC and Royal Society) in London. He completed retinal specialty training in both the UK and Australia. He is currently a consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. He holds the academic position of Professor of Stem Cell and Retinal Transplantation Surgery, at University College London.
Professor da Cruz is chief investigator and surgeon for the bionic eye implantation project in London, which remains the largest recruiting centre in the international trial. Prof da Cruz's interest also includes work with stem cell therapy and translocation and transplantation surgery for people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). He is also currently clinical lead on The London Project for transplanting stem-cell-derived retinal cells for the treatment of AMD.