For more than three decades, Drs. Henry Klassen and Jing Yang, have been working to develop cell-based therapies for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Their work has focused on using stem cells to treat these retinal conditions. Stem cells could offer a number of therapeutic benefits. These immature cells can “bathe” diseased cells, such as the rods and cones in RP patients, with growth factors that can rescue dying cells. They can also differentiate into retinal cells – true regenerative medicine.
Still, challenges remain. Stem cells can be finicky, and don’t necessarily do what we want them to do. However, their many years of hard work may soon bear fruit. In 2012, Drs. Klassen and Yang founded jCyte, a regenerative medicine company dedicated to finding new treatments for RP. The company’s retinal progenitor cell therapy is currently in clinical trials.
But the work is far from done. The Foundation for Retinal Regeneration is continuing our research to help patients suffering from retinal disease. We believe this work will eventually restore visions for people with RP and AMD.