Visual Regenerative Medicine
- Regenerative Medicine in Opthalmology
- Mechanical stress
- Eye diseases
- Gelatinous drop-like corneal dystrophy
Developing therapeutic methods for refractive eye diseases using a regenerative medicine approach
Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects 5% of the Japanese population and can lead to blindness. The disease arises from a buildup of fluid pressure in the eye, also known as intraocular pressure, that causes damage to the optic nerve and leads to a gradual loss of vision and eventually blindness. In other words, glaucoma is caused by a dynamic response of the optic nerve to mechano-stress.
To this end, the laboratory is studying the molecular mechanism of glaucoma by examining astrocyte responses to mechano-stress. In long-term culture under mechanical stress, astocytes showed adhesion through dynamic protrusions and increased expression of the astrocyte marker GFAP. We are developing a protocol that uses astrocytes derived from iPS cells in our model.
Gelatinous drop-like corneal dystrophy (GDLD) is a genetic disease that occurs frequently in Japan and is characterized by clouding of the cornea to cause corneal epithelium dysfunction. After performing a genetic analysis of a GDLD patient’s family, the laboratory identified TACSTD2 as the responsible gene. To confirm this, TACSTD2 knockout mice were generated. After one year, the corneal opacity of the knockout mice frequently became opaque in a similar manner to human patients, and appeared to reflect the pathology of GDLD. In addition, the onset of cloudiness of the cornea was accelerated under certain conditions and even became turbid after one month. The laboratory aims to develop new treatments combining regenerative medicine and gene therapy, as well as examine the underlying mechanisms of the disease onset at the cellular level.