USC discovery shows long-term viability of stem cell derived retinal implant

Newly published data from USC has shown a stem-cell derived implant designed to improve vision for patients suffering from age-related macular degeneration can safely be inserted into the eye and without the need for long-term immunosuppressants.

Closeup of eyes

Date: February 7, 2022

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By: John Merritt

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Doctors and biomedical engineers who implant cells and tissues into patients to restore motion or eyesight have long been challenged by potential rejection of the implant by the patient’s own immune system.

Now, newly published data from USC has shown a stem-cell derived implant designed to improve vision for patients suffering from age-related macular degeneration — one of the most common forms of blindness in adults over 40 — can safely be inserted into the eye and without the need for long-term immunosuppressants.

“There’s been some debate on whether stem cells derived from a different, unrelated person would survive in the retina without long-term immunosuppression,” said Mark Humayun, USC University Professor of Ophthalmology.

“For instance, if you were to receive a kidney transplant, long-term immunosuppression would be required to prevent organ rejection. This study indicates the cells on the retinal implant can survive for up to two years without long-term immunosuppression.”

Read the rest of the story on the USC News website, where it was published on Feb. 3, 2022. Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels.