At the recent RPI stem cell and bioengineering meeting, the Neural Stem Cell Institute’s Sally Temple talked about her group’s intriguing retinal pigmented epithelial cell (RPE) research.
With the broad focus of attention in the world of RPEs mostly on those derived from either human ESC or IPSC, it was exciting to here about the adult RPEs that Temple’s group has isolated and characterized (e.g. see this paper).
Although only about 3% of cells isolated from the human retina turn out to be retinal stem cells, Temple reported that they can be scaled to provide plenty of potential doses (see below).
One of the remarkable things about these stem cells is that they can make beautiful RPEs and also perhaps through some kind of EMT, they can generate cells of the mesenchymal lineage (see image below).
They are hoping to have an IND in the next couple years. I’m very curious how the adult RPEs compare to those made from pluripotent stem cells.
I also asked Sally after the meeting to give a big picture perspective on this work:
“My experience in translating the discovery of RPE stem cells towards a therapeutic for age-related macular degeneration is that it is an intensive team effort. You really need to have experts in different aspects of the science, animal modeling, safety testing, regulatory science and clinical disease, both doctors and patients, all working together. Our experience has been amazing, everyone on the team is working so hard to create this new therapeutic. You also need substantial funding, and we have to thank the NYS NYSTEM program for creating this incredible opportunity via their clinical translation program.”
I’m curious what the pluripotent stem cell-derived RPE fans (e.g. Ocata, the IPSC RPE team in Japan led by Masayo Takahashi, etc.) think of this adult RPE approach.