Scientists given £1m to create a retinal model from stem cells
Wednesday, 24 January 2018
A Newcastle University research team have been awarded £1m to advance understanding of retinal disease and help develop new treatments.
The team, led by Professor Lyle Armstrong from Newcells Biotech Ltd, has been awarded the funding to work on producing a 3D model of a retinal cell from stem cells.
No treatment currently exists to effectively treat many retinal diseases and it is not yet possible to reconstruct the complex structure of the mature human retina in a controlled environment.
The team will use human induced stem cells to create 3D retinal cells that replicate the structure and function of the human retina. By producing a human retina in a dish, it is opening up new ways to look at retinal biology and understand more about serious eye diseases.
It is hoped that the model retina will make it possible to test the effectiveness of drugs to develop new treatments with less side effects.
Lyle Armstrong, Professor of Cellular Reprogramming at Newcastle University said: “In this project we make 3D models of the human retina from stem cells that are able to produce any of the cells found in an adult human. The retina models we can build are a tremendous resource for testing new drugs that are needed to treat debilitating conditions, such as age related macular degeneration.”
NewCells Biotech Ltd, in collaboration with Newcastle and Loughborough Universities and Sunderland Eye Infirmary and Asymptote, have been awarded the funding through a CRACK IT challenge – a competition by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).