Potential Novel Approach for Directing Stem Cells to the Retina

December 05, 2023

Researchers exploring glaucoma treatment have uncovered a potential breakthrough in mice, offering hope for addressing one of the leading causes of global blindness. With no current treatments to reverse vision loss from retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death, the multidisciplinary team, led by Harvard Medical School researchers at the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass Eye and Ear, successfully generated RGCs from blood stem cells. 

Published in PNAS, the study altered the eye's microenvironment to transform blood stem cells into migratory and survivable retinal ganglion cells within the mouse retina. Employing a big data approach, the researchers identified 12 molecules unique to RGCs, with stromal derived factor 1 emerging as the top-performing molecule for migration and transplantation. 

Senior author Petr Baranov, HMS assistant professor of ophthalmology at Schepens, envisions this chemokine-guided approach as promising for restoring vision in glaucoma patients, marking a significant advancement in potential neurodegenerative condition treatments.

SOURCE: https://hms.harvard.edu/news/possible-new-way-guide-stem-cells-retina