Embryonic, induced pluripotent (iPS), and adult stem cells have great potential for treating a variety of diseases, including eye maladies such as macular degeneration. We have begun studies aimed at understanding the basic biology of how stem cells differentiate into ocular cells, especially RPE cells. We have shown that RPE differentiated from iPS cells can rescue vision in a rat model of retinal dystrophy. We are now working with Dave Gamm, Jamie Thomson, Derek Hei and others to combine iPS-RPE with iPS retinal cells for the treatment of retinal disease. This work is funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness.
Based on this “proof of concept”, we established The California Project to Cure Blindness, a "Disease Team" of investigators from USC, Caltech, City of Hope, University College London, and Regnerative Patch Technologies, LLC, to translate this work to the clinic. This work is funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Affiliated faculty on this project: Dr. Lincoln Johnson, Dr. Mark Humayun, Dr. David Hinton, Dr. Pete Coffey, Dr. Jane Lebkowski, Dr. Dave Gamm, and Dr. Jamie Thomson.