Corneal Human Stem Cells Retinal
Progenitors Retinal Epithelial
Human Embryonic Stem Cells
Human embryonic stem cells (HESCs) are capable of unlimited self-renewal when maintained in appropriate tissue culture conditions. They are a potential source of cells that may be suitable for transplantation into the eye to replace retinal cells lost as a result of disease or injury. Several human embryonic cell lines are already available for use and scientists at the Institute, together with colleagues at Sheffield University and clinicians at Moorfields Eye Hospital, have shown that retinal pigment epithelial cells can be readily derived from HESCs using simple in vitro treatments and these cells have properties very similar to the resident RPE cells of the eye. In addition the potential exists to turn these cells into light sensitive rod and cone photoreceptors so that eye diseases characterized by loss of these cells may also become treatable. Amongst patients that may benefit from cell replacement strategies include those suffering from eye diseases such as AMD and RP, for which there is presently no cure.