First steps of a possible therapeutic strategy for glaucoma, guiding stem cells to the retina

It is known with certainty that glaucoma represents one of the main causes of blindness worldwide, and with it, in many cases, the loss of vision, due to the absence of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), which, Currently it cannot be reversed with any treatment. Previous studies …

It is known with certainty that the Glaucoma represents one of the main causes of blindness throughout the world, and, with this, on many occasions, the vision loss, due to the absence of retinal ganglion cells (RGC), which currently cannot be reversed with any treatment.

Previous studies have looked at replacing RGCs through cell transplants, but this process is still in the research and development stage and is plagued by limitations that highlight the need for a more precise way to effectively repopulate these cells in the retina.

One limitation impeding the success of current stem cell transplantation strategies in retinal studies is that most donor cells remain at the injection site and they do not migrate where they are most needed.

Now, a multidisciplinary team led by researchers at the Schepens Ophthalmology Research Institute at Mass Eye and Ear in Massachusetts has designed a promising new strategy for glaucoma cell replacement therapy. Is about extract stem cells from blood and convert them into retinal ganglion cells capable of migrating and surviving in the retina of the eye.

To identify an improved solution, the researchers created RGCs from stem cells and then tested the ability of several signaling molecules known as chemokines to guide these new neurons to their correct positions within the retina. The research team used a “big data” approach and examined hundreds of such molecules and receptors to find 12 unique to RGCs. They found that stromal-derived factor 1 was the best performing molecule for both migration and transplantation.

This method of using chemokines to guide the movement and integration of donor cells represents a promising approach to restoring vision in glaucoma patients.“explained the lead author Dr. Petr Baranov, of Mass Eye and Ear, and assistant professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.

“It was of interest to work with a team of talented scientists with unique expertise to develop novel techniques in this study to modify the local environment to guide cellular behavior, techniques that can potentially be applied to treat other neurodegenerative conditions,” concluded Dr. Baranov.

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