Chemical biology news from across RSC Publishing.
30 April 2007
Polymer scaffolds could one day be used to fix damaged eyes.
A team of US researchers has developed a plastic scaffold for retinal cells, which can be implanted in the eye and used to replace diseased or damaged cells.
Retinal progenitor cells proliferate on polymer scaffolds
The scaffold is made of the same material as hard contact lenses, poly(methyl methacrylate), and is only 6µm thick. Previous attempts to repair retinas in this way have used scaffolds more than twenty times thicker, and implanting them has often caused more damage than they have been able to repair.
The group behind the research, led by Tejal Desai at the University of California in San Francisco, tested both flat scaffolds and scaffolds containing a regular grid of pores. They found that cells stay attached to porous scaffolds more easily, making them a better way to transport the cells to the back of the eye.
Desai believes that scaffolds are the most promising method to fix retinal damage. 'Retinal progenitor cells alone are insufficient to recreate the complex structure of the retina, particularly when multiple retinal layers have been lost or disrupted,' she said. 'Our scaffolds influence retinal progenitor cell attachment, promote differentiation and provide a physical guide for normal anatomical organisation of the cells.'
Read more about tissue engineering in the June special issue of Lab on a Chip: 'Cell and Tissue Engineering Microsystems.'
Link to journal article
Survival, migration and differentiation of retinal progenitor cells transplanted on micro-machined poly(methyl methacrylate) scaffolds to the subretinal space
Sarah Tao, Conan Young, Stephen Redenti, Yiqin Zhang, Henry Klassen, Tejal Desai and Michael J. Young, Lab Chip, 2007, 7, 695