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Cell Therapy Institute: Disorders Causing Blindness

Research Programs

Stem Cell Therapy for Macular Degeneration

Research Team: Outi Hovata, M.D., Ph.D.; Ben Josey, Ph.D.
Summary:  Macular Degeneration (MD - dry & wet forms) is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans aged 60 or older. The dry form of the disease affects 90-95% of sufferers and causes vision loss in the center of a patient’s field of vision due to deterioration of the macula which is in the center of the retina. The NSU Cell Therapy Institute is developing a novel approach to cure dry MD by transplanting human stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelial cell (RPE cells). This approach targets dry MD by replacing the degenerating, damaged cells in the eye with healthy RPE cells to restore full function and vision. Immune rejection has been a major impediment in such transplant techniques, so this program is developing differentiated RPE cells combined with technology that induces transplant tolerance, eliminating the need for chronic immunosuppression.