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
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences
28.03.2017 | Information Technology
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy