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Adult stem cells in retinal diseases: where do we go from here?

Guest edited by Rajashekhar Gangaraju, The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, USA

A thematic series in Stem Cell Research & Therapy

diabetes retinopathy © koolsabuy / stock.adobe.com

Adult stem cells found throughout the body are now known to replenish dying cells and regenerate damaged tissues. A variety of adult stem cells, including but not limited to hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), especially those derived from adipose tissue and bone marrow, and endothelial progenitor cells (EPC), have been explored as a possible treatment for retinal diseases with excellent efficacy in preclinical models.  Recent advances in generating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from somatic cells have opened up a new avenue of possibilities, including the generation of retinal organoids that likely provide a platform to better understand the disease mechanism with an added advantage to provide preclinical testing of new treatments.  Although some early clinical trials have been successful with MSC, the growing popularity of stem-cell clinics in the USA muddied the waters with controversial outcomes of these therapeutics, raising concerns among the public. This thematic series aims to highlight the pros and cons of adult stem cell therapies as related to visual disorders and describe the state of the art. 

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