Stem Cell Clinical Trial for RP Planned for Late 2013

June 20, 2012
ReNeuron, a stem cell development company in the United Kingdom, is planning to file for regulatory approval in late 2013 to launch a clinical trial of a stem cell treatment for people with retinitis pigmentosa. The company announced its plans on June 15, 2012, at the 10th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) in Yokohama, Japan.

The emerging treatment involves the transplantation of retinal progenitor cells (RPCs), which are more mature than embryonic stem cells but haven’t completely developed into photoreceptors, the cells in the retina that make vision possible. Researchers believe that, once they’re transplanted into the eye, the RPCs will develop into, and function as, normal mature photoreceptors.

At the ISSCR meeting, Dr. Michael Young, of Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, presented a poster showing that he and his colleagues could grow and transplant RPCs into mouse models of RP. After transplantation, the RPCs matured and produced proteins that are found in functioning photoreceptors.

Dr. Young also presented a poster describing how his team used a thin biodegradable scaffold to develop and organize the cells prior to transplantation. The approach greatly increases cell survival and integration into the recipient’s retina.

The Foundation funded earlier stem cell and scaffold research by Dr. Young that is making this treatment approach possible.

ReNeuron is currently conducting a Phase I clinical trial in the United Kingdom of a stem cell treatment for people who are severely disabled from stroke.