Cell therapy for the eyesight

Life Science Inkubator – Dr. Dierk Wittig – Mesentech, LSI Bonn

Stammzellen

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Beneficiary: Life Science Inkubator Bonn GmbH & Co. KG
Funding: 01.09.2011 bis 30.09.2014, 1.716.895 Euro


Project description

Scientists from the "Life Science Incubator" in Bonn are developing a new therapy for eye diseases based on adult stem cells. The aim is to treat retinal diseases, in particular age-related macular degeneration.

The most common causes of blindness in old age are degenerative diseases of the retina, which effect a lasting damage of the sensory cells of the eye. Particularly common are age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. In Germany, about 15 percent of people between the ages of 65 and 75 are affected by age-related macular degeneration, from the age of 75 about one third of the population is affected. Conventional therapies can only delay the course of the disease and can only be applied at an advanced stage of affection.

The scientists of the "Mesentech" project are working on a new treatment option for degenerative retinal diseases based on adult stem cells. The aim is to treat age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy at an early stage of affection. This strategy is based on the use of "mesenchymal" stem cells, which also occur naturally in the bone marrow. The therapeutic effect is mediated in particular by the release of specific active substances.

According to the researchers in Bonn, the treatment could be limited to a single injection of immobilized stem cells into the eye of the patient. This should stop the disease and at least partially restore the retina. "Mesentech" is intended to prove the fundamental feasibility of this research approach ("proof of principle") as well as to create the prerequisites for patient studies and drug development. Studies on rats have already shown promising results.