Tue, Nov 21, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Research finds promising way to regenerate retinas

TESTING STAGE:The research group’s testing on pigs has shown no signs of retinal detachment and normal color and light detection. The next step is human trials

By Lin Hui-chin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A research group has made a breakthrough in the study of retinal regeneration and might have found a cure for macular degeneration, Taipei Veterans General Hospital Department of Basic Sciences director Chiu Shih-hua (邱士華) said on Friday.

Using a Ministry of Science and Technology grant, a research group comprising members from the hospital, National Yang Ming University, National Chiao Tung University and the University of California, San Diego used induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to create retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and retinal ganglion cells (RGCs).

The group in preliminary tests has created a nearly complete replica of a retinal layer that is capable of sensing light, Chiu said.

The group has for the past three years tested the results of its research on pigs and have found no signs of retinal detachment, Chiu said, adding that the replica is capable of normal detection of light and color.

Human clinical testing is being planned, he said.

Future development of their research could be utilized in tandem with electronic eyes for the blind, Chiu said, adding that iPSC could help revitalize withered retinal layers and nerves, and might serve to enhance the functionality of electronic eyes.

The use of iPSC would leave no scars, as opposed to a Japanese method of using the patient’s skin to develop RPE, Chiu said, adding that coupled with 3D printing technology, they have successfully made RGCs grow in the proper places.

Growing the RGCs in the right place helps smooth later steps, such as forming optic nerves, Chiu said, adding that the group’s work is in the forefront of its field.

Once the method has been successfully tested on humans, it might help those with macular degeneration see again, Chiu said.

Ten to 15 percent of people above 65 years old have age-induced macular degeneration, while at least 30 percent, or 50,000 to 100,000, experience inevitable retinal degeneration, he said.

With current methods, patients can only delay the inevitable with injections, as there is no effective cure, he added.

This story has been viewed 1865 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top