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Stem cell production of functional RPE cells facilitates therapeutic development

One of the biggest challenges in converting the promise of stem cell therapies into clinical use is to define the elixir that directs the embryonic stem cell to produce the desired fully differentiated specialised cell type. However, following significant tinkering and a little luck, researchers at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Centre in Jerusalem have reported the production of fully differentiated functioning RPE cells, cultured in the lab and delivered to animal models. Such findings in the field of stem cell therapies for ocular disease represent a significant milestone on the road to clinical use. Dysfunctional and degenerating RPE cells are found in several retinal disorders including Best disease, sub-types of RP and in AMD, all of which may stand to benefit if the technology can be developed for human application.