Wednesday, 20 March 2013

New method for producing retinal cells from induced pluripotent stem cells

Researchers at the Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) have developed a new technique for the production of human retinal cells using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) without involving any xenogeneic products, for instance animal proteins and foreign substances. Like any advance in the iPSCs field, the study has many implications as these cells can be used for regenerative purposes, disease modelling, and pharmacological screening.

In this study the researchers, led by Jason S. Meyer, have successfully created human iPSCs and differentiated them into retinal cells by exclusively using chemical factors throughout the entire process. Specifically, the iPSCs were maintained in traditional, feeder and xeno free culture conditions, and were differentiated to retinal cells, including photoreceptors and retinal ganglion cells. Further examination revealed that the cells functioned properly and were "equal" compared to retinal cells developed via "traditional" iPSCs methods.

“Not only were we able to differentiate these (hiPSC) cells into retinal cells, but we were able to do so in a system devoid of any animal cells and proteins,” said Meyer.

Image showing the anatomy of a rod cell
Anatomy of a photoreceptor cell (rod cell)


Meyer believes that their technique holds great potential for the treatment of many retinal diseases including macular degeneration and many types of hereditary blindness diseases as it could be used to create a model for understanding the deeper mechanisms involved, also allowing them to test new experimental treatments and drug therapies.

"The demonstration of this capability will facilitate future efforts to develop hiPSC-based therapies for retinal disorders and also help to advance in vitro studies of human retinal development." extract from the study's abstract

We’re talking about bringing stem cells a significant step closer to clinical use” said Meyer



Reference
Sridhar, A., Steward, M., & Meyer, J. (2013). Nonxenogeneic Growth and Retinal Differentiation of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Stem Cells Translational Medicine DOI: 10.5966/sctm.2012-0101

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