US-based therapeutic development company, AiVita Biomedical has secured the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) grant to develop stem cell-derived 3D-transplantable retinas to treat vision loss.
The development project is being conducted in collaboration with University of California, and Irvine (UCI) Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Centre assistant professor Magdalene Seiler.
Aivita will be responsible for manufacturing the 3D-retinal organoids and will use its GMP manufacturing, quality and regulatory systems to render the process clinically and commercially compliant.
UCI will have the responsibility of evaluating the safety and efficacy of the device in addressing retinal degeneration.
AiVita CEO Dr Hans Keirstead said: "We are proud to have achieved such a major milestone, the restoration of visual acuity in models of advanced retinal degeneration, using a human stem cell population that is ethically procured, renewable and cost effective.
"We are very thankful to CIRM for supporting the further development of this important programme."
The device, to be manufactured under the project, is intended to address macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa by using human stem cells differentiated into sheets of retinal tissue to restore visual responses.
It is reported that the existing approaches can only target limited disease stages through methods such as transient trophic support for degenerating retinal cells within the patient.
According to AiVita team, the new project will enable them to treat a greater number of retinal disorders at various stages compared to current approaches.