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Tissue engineering and cell-based therapies of the RPE

 Group Stanzel



The Retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) incurs a lifelong damage, which is one mechanism leading to age related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness over 55. Despite intense research, to date the majority of those affected have no effective therapy available.

Cell based replacement strategies of the RPE represent, in contrast to current pharmacologic interventions, a curative treatment. Our group investigates potential future strategies to improve ongoing autologous clinical RPE transplantation protocols. Intermittent culturing could potentially rejuvenate aged RPE. Age related changes of the RPE are reflected in culture, yet our findings suggest that they can be overcome with modern artificial substrates and defined culture media.

Degenerations and surgical damage in Bruch's membrane may potentially compromise survival or function of transplanted RPE. Hence, an important adjunct to RPE replacement is Bruch's membrane prosthesis, which is our main research focus. Bruch's membrane prosthesis may also be important for transplantation of RPE- like cells derived from stem cells other sources.

In longterm, we envision the use of tissue engineering for replacement of the entire RPE/Choriocapillaris Complex.

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Selected References

 Liu Z, Na Y, Holz FG, Yang F, Stanzel BV. Enhancement of retinal pigment epithelial culture characteristics and subretinal space tolerance of scaffolds with 200 nm fiber topography.

Biomaterials. 2014;35(9): 2837–2850


Stanzel BV, Liu Z, Somboonthanakij S, Wongsawad W, Brinken R, Eter N, Corneo B, Holz FG, Temple S, Stern JH, Blenkinsop TA. Human RPE stem cells grown into Polarized RPE Monolayers on a Polyester Matrix are Maintained after grafting into Rabbit Subretinal Space.

Stem Cell Reports. 2014; 2(1):64-77


Stanzel BV, Liu Z, Brinken R, Braun N, Holz FG, Eter N. Subretinal delivery of ultrathin rigid-elastic cell carriers using a metallic shooter instrument and biodegradable hydrogel encapsulation.

Investigative ophthalmology & visual science. 2012;53:490-500.


Thieltges F, Stanzel BV, Liu Z, Holz FG. A Nanofibrillar Surface Promotes Superior Growth Characteristics in Cultured Human Retinal Pigment Epithelium.

Ophthalmic Res. 2011;46:133-40.


Binder S, Stanzel BV, Krebs I, Glittenberg C. Transplantation of the RPE in AMD.

Prog Retin Eye Res 2007; 26: 516-554.


Stanzel BV, Englander M, Strick DJ, Sanislo SR, Huie P, Blumenkranz MS, Binder S, Marmor MF. Perspektive: Tissue engineering bei RPE-Transplantation in AMD.

Spektrum der Augenheilkunde 2007; 21: 212.


Stanzel BV, Espana EM, Grueterich M, Kawakita T, Parel JM, Tseng SC, Binder S. Amniotic membrane maintains the phenotype of rabbit retinal pigment epithelial cells in culture.

Exp Eye Res 2005; 80: 103-112.


Binder S, Krebs I, Hilgers RD, Abri A, Stolba U, Assadoulina A, Kellner L, Stanzel BV, Jahn C, Feichtinger H. Outcome of transplantation of autologous retinal pigment epithelium in age-related macular degeneration: a prospective trial.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2004; 45: 4151-4160.