The STORM Center focuses on renegenerative medicine within the eye, with particular focus on regenerating neurons and their connections in the eye and the visual system. Eyesight is contingent upon the eye's ability to capture images using photoreceptor cells, and the successful transmission of these images to the brain via the optic nerve, dependent on retinal ganglion cells (RCGs). The dysfunction and death of each of these types of cells, photoreceptors and RCGs, cause a variety of eye diseases and damage that lead to vision loss.
Our scientists are studying how stem cells can be used to replace these dead, dying or broken cells to cure any blindness and have already achieved significant success including:
- Creating three-dimensional human retinas in the lab composed of photorecpetors that sense light
- Growing new retinal ganglion cells in the lab from human stem cells
- Repairing damaged retinal blood vessels in mice using stem cells
Our Current Work
- Building and testing surgical devices and approaches to deliver stem cell-derived, retinal cells into the eye
- Developing real-time imaging technology that will allow us to monitor the performance of the transplanted cells
- Facilitating assimiltation of the transplanted photoreceptors and RGCs to connect them with other cells in the retina and the brain and thus to enable the patient to see
- Identifying molecules that help the new cells survive and creating the best environment to keep transplanted cells alive in the eye
- Optimizing regenerative medicine for the eye, specifically, honing technologies to correct genetic mutations and grow healthy photoreceptors, RGCs and other retinal cells from human stem cells
With the best minds working in multiple disciplines, Wilmer is well poised to be at the forefront of fulfilling the promise of regenerative medicine to restore sight.
- Dr. Sheila West, Vice Chair for Research, Wilmer Eye Institute