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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 /

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. 

  1. National Eye Institute recently issued a new Strategic Plan outlining priority research areas for the next 5 years. Starting cell source for deriving stem cell lines is as an area with gaps and opportunities for ...

    Authors: Ashley M. Fortress, Kiyoharu J. Miyagishima, Amberlynn A. Reed, Sally Temple, Dennis O. Clegg, Budd A. Tucker, Timothy A. Blenkinsop, George Harb, Thomas N. Greenwell, Tenneille E. Ludwig and Kapil Bharti
    Citation: Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2023 14:53
  2. Diabetic retinopathy, a major complication of diabetes mellitus, is a leading cause of sigh-loss in working age adults. Progressive loss of integrity of the retinal neurovascular unit is a central element in t...

    Authors: Judith Lechner, Reinhold J. Medina, Noemi Lois and Alan W. Stitt
    Citation: Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2022 13:388
  3. Optic neuritis (ON) is frequently encountered in multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, anti-myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein associated disease, and other systemic autoimmune disorders...

    Authors: Anagha Aneesh, Alice Liu, Heather E. Moss, Douglas Feinstein, Sriram Ravindran, Biji Mathew and Steven Roth
    Citation: Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2021 12:594
  4. Recently, great efforts have been made to design protocols for obtaining ocular cells from human stem cells to model diseases or for regenerative purposes. Current protocols generally focus on isolating retina...

    Authors: Helena Isla-Magrané, Anna Veiga, José García-Arumí and Anna Duarri
    Citation: Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2021 12:581
  5. The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is implicated in the pathophysiology of many retinal degenerative diseases. This cell layer is also an ideal target for cell-based therapies. Several early phase clinical t...

    Authors: John W. Hinkle, Raziyeh Mahmoudzadeh and Ajay E. Kuriyan
    Citation: Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2021 12:538
  6. Retinal regenerative therapies hold great promise for the treatment of inherited retinal degenerations (IRDs). Studies in preclinical lower mammal models of IRDs have suggested visual improvement following ret...

    Authors: Swathi Lingam, Zengping Liu, Binxia Yang, Wendy Wong, Bhav Harshad Parikh, Jun Yi Ong, Debbie Goh, Daniel Soo Lin Wong, Queenie Shu Woon Tan, Gavin S. W. Tan, Graham E. Holder, Kakkad Regha, Veluchamy Amutha Barathi, Walter Hunziker, Gopal Lingam, Xianmin Zeng…
    Citation: Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2021 12:464