Dame Ida Mann Lecture Abstract

The premise and the promise of regenerative medicine.

The eye has long represented an accessible and accommodating organ in which to trial and establish new technologies, from the first corneal transplant to the pioneering use of medical lasers.

The eye is also at the forefront of the current race towards regenerative medicine. Clinical trials are being conducted around the world on stem cell transplantation and gene therapy for eye conditions.  The presentation will highlight some of the technologies that are becoming available whilst also giving insights into the current work from my own laboratory.

Our laboratory aims to define new therapies for the treatment of corneal disorders and we have been working towards the use of corneal stem cell spheres to regenerate the limbus tissue following stem cell deficiency caused by chemical injuries.  Furthermore, in collaboration with Prof Colin Green (a previous Ida Mann lecturer) and Dr Carol Greene we are applying cell-reprogramming technology to successfully regenerate the corneal stroma in keratoconus by inducing the stromal keratocytes to produce a collagen molecule that is usually only expressed in utero. Careful research is required to advance the promising regenerative technologies towards the clinic.

The presentation will highlight some of the obstacles to be navigated on the road to clinical trials but will also illustrate the requirement for measured application of these alluring new therapies.