Dr Magdalene Seiler, PhD, a stem cell researcher at the University of California, Irvine, has received a $US4.8 million grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to continue developing a stem cell-based therapy for retinitis pigmentosa.

The therapy may also be applicable to macular degeneration.

Dr Seiler said: “Our goal is a treatment based on transplanting sheets of stem-cell derived retina, called retina organoids, to the back of the eye.”

Since 1995, Dr Seiler and her team have pursued promising research into the development and use of retinal sheet transplantation, using a unique patented implantation instrument and procedure that has demonstrated improvement in visual responses in four different retinal degeneration models.

“The aim is to replace damaged photoreceptors with the hope of re-establishing neural circuitry within the eye,” Dr Seiler said.