NEI-funded research at Rochester could lead to patient-specific treatments.
March 30, 2021
3D models of retina shown. Top shows normal retina, bottom shows retina affected by AMD.

An illustration of the lab model that mimics the part of the human retina affected in macular degeneration. The model combines stem cell-derived retinal tissue and vascular networks from human patients with bioengineered synthetic materials in a 3D "matrix." Credit: University of Rochester illustration / Michael Osadciw

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which leads to a loss of central vision, is the most frequent cause of blindness in adults 50 years of age or older, affecting an estimated 196 million people worldwide. There is no cure, though treatment can slow the onset and preserve some vision.

Recently, however, researchers at the University of Rochester have made an important breakthrough in the quest for an AMD cure. Their first three-dimensional (3D) lab model mimics the part of the human retina affected in macular degeneration.

Their model combines stem cell-derived retinal tissue and vascular networks from human patients with bioengineered synthetic materials in a three-dimensional "matrix." Notably, using patient-derived 3D retinal tissue allowed the researchers to investigate the underlying mechanisms involved in advanced neovascular macular degeneration, the wet form of macular degeneration, which is the more debilitating and blinding form of the disease.

The researchers have also demonstrated that wet-AMD-related changes in their human retina model could be targeted with drugs.

The work was funded in part by the National Eye Institute.

Read more at University of Rochester Newscenter