Retinal Stem Cells for Transplant in a Glaucoma Model

Derek van der Kooy, PhD University of Toronto

Project Details

In patients with glaucoma, vision is lost because of the death of nerve cells in the eye called retinal ganglion cells. Although treatments exist for glaucoma, many patients still lose vision because of the continued loss of retinal ganglion cells. It is well recognized that stem cells offer hope for the treatment of many diseases. Dr. van der Kooy's laboratory was the first to describe the isolation of retinal stem cells from adult human and adult mouse eyes. When these stem cells are transplanted into mice, they have the remarkable capacity to integrate into the host retina. Furthermore, retinal stem cells can form all the major cell types that are found in the retina, including retinal ganglion cells. Dr. van der Kooy plans to transplant adult mouse retinal stem cells into the eyes of mice that have glaucoma and see whether these cells can replace lost retinal ganglion cells. This research will lead towards a day when it will be possible to take just a few retinal stem cells from a patient's eye, expand their numbers in the lab, and then return them to that same patient in order to treat glaucoma.