Texas Congressman Pete Sessions visited the NIH March 27 to meet with NEI Director Michael F. Chiang, M.D., and to tour NEI’s Section on Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research, led by Kapil Bharti, Ph.D. Bharti’s Lab is pioneering applications for patient-derived stem cells.
Sessions sparked the 2017 NEI 3D Retina Organoid Challenge, a prize competition to develop systems for making tissues that closely resemble the eye’s light-sensing retina.
“Regenerative medicine has made remarkable strides over the past decade, due in no small part to our federal investment in stem cell research,” Chiang said.
In 2007, Japanese scientists led by Shinya Yamanaka first reported a method to induce mature human cells into a state of pluripotency—the ability to turn into nearly any cell in the body. The discovery won Yamanaka a Nobel Prize and opened a flood of research into induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells.
In 2020, less than 15 years after Yamanaka’s discovery—Bharti and his NEI collaborators launched a clinical trial of patient-derived retinal tissue to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – one of the most common causes of blindness among older Americans. Bharti’s group is also developing IPS cell-derived tissue models with techniques such as bioprinting to study disease and screen for new drugs for AMD and inherited degenerative eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa.
NEI leads the federal government’s efforts to eliminate vision loss and improve quality of life through vision research…driving innovation, fostering collaboration, expanding the vision workforce, and educating the public and key stakeholders. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs to develop sight-saving treatments and to broaden opportunities for people with vision impairment. For more information, visit https://www.nei.nih.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit https://www.nih.gov/.
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