Ophthalmic Cell Therapies

The most extensive research project at QEI aims at creating tissue-engineered constructs for the restoration of damaged/diseased ocular surface, and for the treatment of the age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Silk fibroin templates for ocular surface restoration

Our scientists were the first to develop membranes made from a protein (fibroin) isolated from natural silk, as a support for growing corneal cells (epithelial, limbal epithelial). We demonstrated the efficacy of the fibroin-cells constructs in the potential therapy of damaged ocular surface through a significant body of experimental research. The first clinical animal trials are currently in progress.

Silk fibroin-based prosthetic Bruch’s membrane for retinal pigment epithelial cell transplantation in the treatment of AMD

The aim of this project is to construct an implantable artificial functional replacement for the Bruch’s membrane from cultured retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells and silk fibroin combined with tropoelastin, with the goal to repairing the outer retina of patients with AMD.

Do Eph/ephrin signalling pathways contribute to the control of corneal endothelial cell function?

We hypothesise that Eph and ephrin proteins may serve to maintain corneal endothelial cells in a dormant state within the adult cornea. By understanding this interaction, we aim to better control growth of corneal endothelial cells thus enabling these cells to support healing of the cornea in patients with diseases of the corneal endothelium.

Growing endothelial cells on silk fibroin templates to replace corneal grafting

The aim of this project is to investigate the feasibility of using membranes constructed from silk fibroin as a vehicle for delivering corneal endothelial cells into the anterior chamber of the eye.

A novel mesenchymal cell-biomaterial construct for corneal reconstruction

We have identified a new type of corneal stem cell and seek to understand how this cell may be best used to treat patients with corneal diseases. We will also evaluate the use of silk fibroin as a potential vehicle for delivering these cells to the ocular surface.