Scientists at Queens University Belfast for Vision and Vascular Science are aiming to treat diabetic retinopathy using stem cells.
REDDSTAR, will use donor stem cells which are then re-delivered to the patient to repair blood vessels in the eye. The funding, €6m EU-fundied is carried out with NUI Galway, bringing together experts from NI, Ireland, Portugal, Denmark, The Netherlands, Gremany and the US.
The lead scientist and director at Queens, Prosessor Alan Stitt said "The Queen's component of the REDDSTAR study involves investigating the potential of a unique stem cell population to promote repair of damaged blood vessels in the retina during diabetes. The impact could be profound for patients, because regeneration of damaged retina could prevent progression of diabetic retinopathy and reduce the risk of vision loss.' He added that the project was with stem cells taken from bone marrow was one of several regenerative medicine approaches that was ongoing at the centre.
'The approach is quite simple: we plan to isolate a very defined population of stem cells and then deliver them to sites in the body that have been damaged by diabetes.
In the case of some patients with diabetes, they may gain enormous benefit from stem cell-dedicated repair of damaged blood vessels in their retina. This is the first step towards an exciting new therapy in an area where it's desperately needed.'