The University of Hyderabad (UoH) organized a distinguished lecture by Professor Masayo Takahashi Project Leader, Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, RIKEN Centre for Developmental Biology, Kobe, Japan titled “Retinal Cell Therapy using Induced pluripotent stem cells” on January 29, 2018 at the School of Life Sciences Auditorium, UoH.

Eye is our window to the world. Innermost part of the eye, called Retina, is responsible for converting the light rays into neural signals and transfer to the brain for visual recognition. Diseases such as Age related macular degeneration (ARMD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP) are the 2 most common retinal diseases that lead to blindness. It has been estimated that by the year 2020, prevalence of ARMD may increase from 3 to 6 million. Half a million Indian population are suffering with RP and 1.4 million Indians are estimated to be carriers of this disease.

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Professor Takahashi said, new retinal neurons can be generated after being damaged. This has opened up a new hope on the ability of neurons to regenerate, and reconstitute the neural network in the adult retina. Prof. Takahashi and her team in RIKEN, Center for developmental Biology, Kobe, Japan are now exploring this exciting prospects by transplanting cells from outside of the retina or by regeneration from Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). Prof. Takahashi and her team have confirmed the safety of this treatment in a clinical study. She has given a hope that one day it may be possible to restore the lost function to damaged retinas with this regenerative treatment therapy and millions of patients suffering with these diseases may be benefited.

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This distinguished lecture was graced by Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Appa Rao Podile, Pro-VC & Dean I/c, School of Medical Sciences Prof. P. Prakash Babu and world-know stem cells researcher Prof. Geeta K Vemuganti. The occasion was concluded by having an informal discussion with University faculty and research scholars.

About the Speaker:

Masayo Takahashi MD, PhD is Project Leader, Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, RIKEN Centre for Developmental Biology, Kobe, Japan. She received her MD from Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan in 1986, and her PhD in Medicine at the same institution in 1992. After serving as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, Kyoto University Hospital, she moved to the Salk Institute, California, USA in 1995, where she first learned of the potential of stem cells as a tool for retinal therapy. She returned to the same hospital in 1997, and since 2001 has served as an associate professor at the Translational Research Center, Kyoto, Japan. She joined RIKEN as a team leader of the retinal regeneration team in 2006. Her team started a pilot clinical study of autologous iPS cell-derived Retinal Pigment Epithelial (RPE) cell sheets for exudative aged-related macular degeneration in 2013. The first RPE cell sheet graft was transplanted in September 2014. Results of this landmark study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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In December 2014 Takahashi was featured in “365 days: Nature’s 10, ten people who mattered this year” for injecting hope into the stem-cell field and for her groundbreaking work in regenerative medicine. In 2015 she was awarded the “Ogawa-Yamanaka” Prize in Stem Cell Biology.

In March 2017 a team led by Takahashi completed the first successful transplant of iPS-derived retinal cells into the eye of a patient suffering from advanced wet age-related macular degeneration. During the surgery the patient received a transplant of approximately 250,000 retinal pigment epithelial cells into the eye generated from donor-derived iPSCs. She has more than 200 publications and her h-Index is 64.

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