Paradigm shift in the research field of photoreceptor transplantation: mechanism improving the function of the retina works different than previously assumed
The research group of Prof. Dr. Marius Ader, group leader at the DFG-Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD), Cluster of Excellence at TU Dresden, introduces a new understanding of the mechanism of cell transplantations that aim to improve retinal function. Affected retinal degenerative diseases are for example age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) with a current total of approximately 1.6 million patients affected in Germany.
Dresden. The study presented here describes a paradigm shift in the research field of photoreceptor transplantation. Photoreceptors comprise the rods and cones in the retina. Whereas rods are responsible for vision in dim light conditions (“night vision”), cones are responsible for daylight vision and color recognition. In case of retinal degenerative diseases, usually the photoreceptors are affected – leading to clinical conditions like age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).
First AMD symptoms comprise a blurred and distorted perception in the center of the visual field due to dysfunction and loss of cones. This leads to difficulties in the recognition of people and to a loss of the reading ability. AMD is the most common cause for blindness in Germany. On the other hand, RP leads to a gradual reduction of the visual field due to rod photoreceptor dysfunction and death.
The affected patients develop a “tunnel vision” that leads step by step to a complete blindness as cones are finally also lost. The high number of affected patients, with about 5000 new cases of registered blindness every year, emphasizes the relevance of research in this field.
The study introduced here examines the mechanism underlying the rescue of retinal function observed previously in mouse models of retinal degeneration. With respect to the transplantation of photoreceptors, it was assumed that there is a structural integration of donor photoreceptors into the retinal tissue resulting in functional replacement of endogenous photoreceptors (“cell replacement therapy”). The results presented here show that this is not the case.
The donor cells actually remain at the injection site and instead transfer cell material to endogenous photoreceptors of the recipient. This is a new, unexpected mechanism of cell material transfer between donor and recipient photoreceptors and its potential for the development as a therapy needs to be examined in further detail now (“cell support therapy”).
Further studies carried out by Professor Ader and his research team aim to identify the cellular and molecular preconditions for this process. “Our results open up a potential new therapeutic approach for the treatment of retinal degenerations. Donor cells might support remaining but dysfunctional photoreceptors instead of replacing them.”, Professor Ader explains.
Since 2007, Marius Ader is working as a research group leader at the CRTD. From 2003-2007 he worked as a Senior-Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin (Ireland). Between 2000 and 2003 he was active as a postdoctoral fellow at the Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) and the Zentrum für Molekulare Neurobiologie Hamburg (ZMNH).
Santos-Ferreira T*, Llonch S*, Borsch O*, Postel K, Haas J, Ader M. Retinal transplantation of photoreceptors results in donor–host cytoplasmic exchange. Nat. Commun. 7, 13028. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13028 (2016).
Franziska Clauß, M.A.
Phone: +49 351 458 82065
Founded in 2006, the DFG Research Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD), Cluster of Excellence at the TU Dresden has now passed the second phase of the Excellence Initiative which aims to promote top-level research and improve the quality of German universities and research institutions. The goal of the CRTD is to explore the human body's regenerative potential and to develop completely new, regenerative therapies for hitherto incurable diseases. The key areas of research include haematology and immunology, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and bone regeneration. At present, eight professors and ten group leaders are working at the CRTD – integrated into an interdisciplinary network of 87 members at seven different institutions within Dresden. In addition, 21 partners from industry are supporting the network. The synergies in the network allow for a fast translation of results from basic research to clinical applications.
Franziska Clauß | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system
19.09.2017 | Salk Institute
Ruby: Jacobs University scientists are collaborating in the development of a new type of chocolate
18.09.2017 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering