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The chemistry of retinal transplantation: the influence of polymer scaffold properties on retinal cell adhesion and control
  1. Andrew J Treharne1,
  2. Martin C Grossel1,
  3. Andrew J Lotery2,3,
  4. Heather A Thomson2
  1. 1School of Chemistry, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  2. 2Clinical Neurosciences Division, School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, UK
  3. 3Southampton Eye Unit, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Andrew J Lotery, Clinical Neurosciences Division, Mailpoint 806, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK; a.j.lotery{at}soton.ac.uk

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Background

Despite differing aetiology and pathology, degenerative retinal diseases including age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa (RP) culminate in photoreceptor cell death. Loss or damage to the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is also a common feature of these somewhat disparate conditions.1 2 Currently no treatments are known to halt or reverse this cellular loss. Recent advances in gene therapy for degenerative retinal diseases have shown promise in both animal models3–5 and clinical trials.6–8 However, the long-term safety and efficacy of gene-replacement therapy are yet to be established. In addition, the effectiveness of such treatments will be somewhat limited in patients with advanced retinal degeneration, as a result of significant pre-existing cell loss. Thus, treatments which aim to replace dystrophic cells are desirable either alone or as an adjunct to gene therapy.

Transplantation and the retina

Positive outcomes of cell transplantation studies in animal models, such as the Royal College of Surgeons rat (RCS), have paved the way for human studies.9–11 Some efficacy has been demonstrated with transplantation of healthy photoreceptors,12 13 sheets of fetal neuroretina14–16 and donor iris …

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