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NIH grant will fund study of novel approach to repairing permanently damaged retinas

Magdalene Seiler, Ph.D., UCI associate professor has been awarded a five-year grant of $3,823,950 from the National Institutes of Health to do a preclinical study using rodent models. This study looks at an innovative co-graft method to permanently repair damaged retinas. Cell transplantation offers a possible therapy for individuals who have already lost their eyesight due to retinal degeneration. This study will attempt to reverse vision loss by performing a combined transplant of photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelial cells (the cell layer that nourishes photoreceptors). The study will also look at the connectivity between the transplant and the host. Photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelial cells work together in eye function. This study wants to look at transplanting both as opposed to just one or the other. This study runs from May 1, 2021 to March 31, 2026. 

What this means for Usher syndrome: This preclinical study looks at an innovative co-graft method to repair damaged retinas. This could possibly lead to vision restoration for individuals with lost eyesight. Although it is just at a preclinical stage, success could mean further research and a possible alternative treatment for vision recovery in people with Usher syndrome.

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