The ODTT laboratory seeks to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that shape the human retina during embryonic development, and how neurodegenerative diseases associated with aging damage the retina leading to vision loss. Our current focus is on age-related macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease, as manifested both in the typical population and in individuals with Down syndrome.
To accomplish these goals we take advantage of state-of-the-art 3-D retinal tissues (“organoids”) derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells. These retinal organoids constitute powerful tools to model human retina development and disease in vitro, and in combination with traditional animal models, they afford unprecedented opportunities to investigate these topics and to develop potential therapies.
To fully realize this vision, we are also working on developing the technologies that are needed to facilitate the application of human retinal organoids to the evaluation of therapeutic drugs for these diseases. These technologies are an integral component of the mission of CellSight, as they will enable the possibility to perform drug screening using 3D retina models, genetically engineered prototypes, and stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium, to contribute to the next generation of treatments for retinal degenerative conditions.