Over last year, our research team has made significant progress in achieving our research goals and reaching the appropriate milestones. We first have demonstrated that we are able to grow the human limbal stem cells under the standard method using mouse 3T3 cells as feeder at the same efficiency level as the leading group in the world. This is the first milestone that we have reached.
We then proceeded with the initial testing of all the proposed human feeder candidates for their ability to support the growth of human limbal stem cells. We found that the current standard culture method on 3T3 cells did not work for human feeder cells. We then investigated four new culture methods to maximize the growth of limbal epithelial cells on human feeder candidates. We also have included a new human feeder cell candidate, adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells. We are very excited to find that two of the human feeder cell types could support the growth of limbal epithelial cells with a significantly higher efficiency than the 3T3 cells using our two new culture methods. We are in the process of further refining the culture methods and characterize the expanded limbal epithelial cells. We believe that we are able to establish a xenobiotic free culture system to efficiently expand limbal stem cells for transplantation.