Advanced Cell-based Therapies in the Eye

 

About our research

Visual loss is caused by a variety of ocular diseases and places a significant burden on society. Replacing or regenerating structures in the eye can recover visual loss in a number of such diseases. We are investigating the potential of different types of cells for restoring vision in a variety of blinding conditions including Age related Macular Degeneration (AMD), Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma and Ocular surface Disease

Ocular surface disease might be treated by replacing the conjunctiva or utilising corneal epithelial limbal stem cell therapy. So we are studying human stem cells and how combinations of cell surface markers and cell sorting technologies can generate transplantable sheets of cells.

Corneal endothelium keeps the cornea clear for good vision by pumping out excess fluid that otherwise would cause corneal swelling and a decline in vision. Understanding the biology of and potential of replacing the corneal endothelium to treat conditions such as Fuch’s dystrophy is a key research strategy of the group.

With age there is a progressive loss of trabecular meshwork cells, part of the drainage outflow pathway in the eye which can be affected in glaucoma. Any increase in pressure in the eye due to poor drainage can result in irreversible damage to the retina causing blindness. We have shown there is subpopulation of adult stem cells that have the potential to repopulate the outflow pathway. The biology of how these cells repopulate the outflow pathway is poorly understood and is a focus of our research.

Replacement of diseased retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells are a potential treatment for age-related macular degeneration; we are working on subretinal transplantation of tissue engineered constructs as a component of such treatments. 

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the working-age population. Retinal pericyte and vascular endothelium interactions are key to understanding the pathobiology of this disease process and is a key area of our research.