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The University of Southampton
Centre for Human Development, Stem Cells and RegenerationResearch themes

Stem cells and scaffolds for retinal repair

Retinal stem cells

Degenerative retinal diseases are the leading cause of untreatable blindness worldwide. There is currently no treatment for loss of light sensitive retinal cells (photoreceptors) or the cells which support their function known as retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. Therefore cell based therapies are an attractive treatment option. We are interested in utilising stem cells, as potential cell sources for ocular transplantation. Our work includes isolating adult stem cells from the anterior eye, as well as other sources such as induced pluripotent stem cells. We then promote transdifferentiation towards retinal phenotypes including photoreceptor and RPE cells.

Current investigations using cells as a treatment for retinal disease rely on the use of cell suspensions. However, polymer scaffolds have been shown to enhance delivery and improve cell survival following transplantation. We are investigating the use of different types of polymer and scaffold conformations including microspheres and electrospun fibres. These projects involve multidisciplinary collaborations between chemists, biologists and clinicians. Eventually we hope to translate this work in to novel therapies for chronic conditions such as age related macular degeneration.


Andrew Lotery, Heather Thomson, Xiaoli Chen (CES) & Martin Grossel (Chemistry)

Treharne, Andrew John, Thomson, Heather A.J., Grossel, Martin C. and Lotery, Andrew J. (2012)Developing methacrylate-based copolymers as an artificial Bruch's membrane substitute. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A(doi:10.1002/jbm.a.34178). (PMID:22528296)

Thomson, H.A., Treharne, A.J., Backholer, L.S., Cuda, F., Grossel, M.C. and Lotery, A.J. (2010)Biodegradable poly(alpha-hydroxy ester) blended microspheres as suitable carriers for retinal pigment epithelium cell transplantation. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A, 95, (4), 1233-1243.(doi:10.1002/jbm.a.32940). (PMID:20939049).

Treharne, Andrew J, Grossel, Martin C, Lotery, Andrew J and Thomson, Heather A (2010) Review: The chemistry of retinal transplantation: the influence of polymer scaffold properties on retinal cell adhesion and control. British Journal of Ophthalmology(doi:10.1136/bjo.2010.184002). (PMID:20807710).

Thomson, Heather Anne Jane, Treharne, Andrew John, Walker , Paul, Grossel , Martin Christopherand Lotery, Andrew John (2009) Optimisation of polymer scaffolds for ocular cell transplantation. ARVO Meeting Abstracts, 50, (5), 6230.

This work has been funded by Gift of Sight, RP Fighting Blindness, Foresight RP, Fight Against Blindness and the National Institute for Health Research.


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