Studies just published in the Cell Reports journal by scientists at the National Eye Institute (one of America's national health institutes) and the Molecular Physiology Institute at Johannes-Gutenberg University, Germany, "could have strong implications in the development of ocular cell therapies". These treatments are intended to replace the retinal pigment epithelium in patients suffering from conditions such as age-related macular degeneration. The scientists showed that the effectiveness of this epithelium is related to the presence of primary eyelashes on the surface of the component cells. To demonstrate their findings, they carried out "in-vitro experiments on retinal pigment epithelia created from iPS cells derived from mature human cells". The presence of molecules stimulating primary eyelash growth improved the maturation of epithelial cells whilst molecules inhibiting lash development led to a "defective" epithelium. The results were corroborated by a targeted mutagenicity experiment.
"Now we have a better idea of how to regenerate and replace pigment epithelium," announced Kapil Bharti, lead author of the study. Based on these conclusions, he has also "amended the protocol of a cell therapy trial involving AMD patients scheduled for 2018". Scientists have also noted that the role of these primary eyelashes is not retina-specific but could apply to lung epithelial cells.
Le quotidien du médecin, Damien Coulomb (3/01/2018)