Year 1

The overall goal of this project is the development of stem cell based therapies for Parkinson’s Disease and retinitis pigmentsosa. Specifically, we are developing defined biomaterials for the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into midbrain dopaminergic neurons and photoreceptors, followed by successful implantation of these cells into models of human disease, Parkinson’s Disease and retinitis pigmentosa. Our team has been making strong progress towards completing these goals. First, we have completed the development of a defined, 3D, scalable system for efficient derivation of high quality midbrain dopaminergic neurons that are electrophysiologically active and can engraft in the brain. We are making progress towards the adaptation of this system towards the differentiation of photoreceptors. Furthermore, we have shown that the use of defined biomaterials can increase survival of midbrain dopaminergic neurons upon implantation into the brain.