Stemming Vision Loss with Stem Cells

November 2, 2011 -
11:45am to 1:00pm

The Fox Center for Vision Restoration organizes an exciting lecture series focusing on ocular regeneration and new therapies.

Distinguished national and international speakers present their innovative and multidisciplinary approaches to finding cures for vision impairment. The objective of this lecture series is to accelerate research through knowledge sharing, partnership building and out of the box thinking.

Martin FriedlanderMartin Friedlander, MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Cell Biology, The Scripps Research Institute
Chief, Retina Service, Division of Ophthalmology, Department of Surgery, Scripps Clinic

Dr. Friedlander received his undergraduate education at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine where he graduated with Highest Honors in Biology. He completed his PhD at the University of Chicago in the Committee on Developmental Biology, and his M.D. at the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center.

He completed a residency and retina fellowship at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has been on the faculties of the Rockefeller University and UCLA prior to joining the faculty of the Scripps Research Institute in 1993. He is presently a Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and the Graduate Program in Macromolecular and Cellular Structure and Chemistry at Scripps and a Staff Ophthalmologist and Chief of the Retina Service at Scripps Clinic and Green Hospital. Dr. Friedlander has been a scholar of the Sinsheimer and Heed Ophthalmic Foundations and has been the recipient of the Alcon Research and Bressler Awards. His research is supported by the National Eye Institute of the NIH, the MacTel Foundation and the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation.

He has served on a number of national service panels for the NIH including study section BDPE, the Trans-Institute Angiogenesis Program, the Neuroscience Blueprint and NEI Strategic Planning Advisory Panels and the NIH Roadmaps Nanomedicine Initiative. His research interests focus on understanding the role of stem cells, integrins, matrix metalloproteinases and other extracellular matrix and cellular receptors during angiogenesis.

He has also had a long-standing interest in targeting, translocation and integration of polytopic membrane proteins. The two research programs are integrated by their application to understanding of, and developing treatments for, neovascular eye diseases and inherited retinal degenerations.

Please check this link for the Friedlander Laboratory.

Presentation abstract

The vast majority of diseases that lead to vision loss in industrialized nations do so as a result of abnormalities in the retinal or choroidal vasculature. Newly emerging paradigms describe the existence of trophic “cross-talk” between local vascular networks and the tissues they supply and such interactions almost certainly help maintain a functional differentiated state in a variety of organ systems.

Recent advances in the field of vascular biology strongly suggest that specific molecules already identified as critical to normal angiogenesis (e.g., adhesion receptors, their ligands and ECM components) will have utility in preventing the abnormal growth of new blood vessels in the eye.
While this “anti-angiogenic” approach is currently the basis for a number of treatments and human clinical trials, we are hopeful that a new therapeutic paradigm, one in which it may be possible to “mature” or stabilize immature, abnormal vessels, will be of far greater benefit to patients suffering from ischemic retinopathies.

This may be possible through the use of autologous bone marrow or cord blood derived hematopoietic stem cells that selectively target sites of neovascularization and gliosis where they provide vasculo- and neurotrophic effects. Such a therapeutic approach would obviate the need to employ destructive treatment modalities and would facilitate vascularization of ischemic and otherwise damaged retinal tissue.  More recently, the development of induced pluripotent stem cells from adult somatic tissue has made it possible to generate autologous grafts of various cell types.

We have used iPSC technology in combination with small molecules to obtain RPE cells for use in treating a variety of diseases associated with RPE degeneration. Such cell based therapeutic approaches will have application to ischemic retinopathies such as ROP and diabetes as well as degenerative retinopathies such as ARMD and retinitis pigmentosa.

Location and Address

Eye and Ear Boardroom, 5th floor, Eye and Ear Institute
203 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh PA 15213