Retina - Research Projects

Our previous and ongoing research has contributed to the successful development of break-through treatments for wet (neovascular) AMD and has laid the ground for regenerative treatment of dry (degenerative) AMD using human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE).

Mechanistic and therapeutic studies on ocular vascular diseases

The field is compartmentalized on the pathophysiological mechanisms of eye neovascular diseases between either local tissue ischemia or the presence of low-grade inflammatory reaction. The Kvanta/Andrélab’s goal is to establish molecular, cellular and preclinicalmodels relevant for ocular neovascular pathologies, and developstrategies to better improve the relationship between basic and clinicalresearch. Many of our projects have been fundamental contributors to elucidate molecular mechanisms underlyingocularpathologies and have paved the foundation for several randomized clinical studies on going in the Kvanta/André group.

Sustainable gene therapy for neovascular AMD

Current treatments for neovascular AMD patients consider intra-ocular injectionsof anti-vascular factorsfor lifethatmust be repeated every 6-8 weeks. The Kvanta/André research has identified a clear role for hypoxia in mediating the vascular and several other factors associated with neovascular AMD, including multiple inflammatorycytokines. Our work was pioneer in revealing the hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) as the transcriptional mediators for neovascular progression of AMD, and led us to create a bonafide long-term and sustainablegene therapy for neovascular AMD, with substantialpotential for future clinical intervention.

Bench-to-bedside cellular regenerative treatments of dry AMD

We have developed a project to study cell transplantation therapies of hESC-derived RPE cells in ourclinically relevantmodel, which benefit the translational value of cell-based therapies in AMD. Currently, we have established a collaborative agreement between Karolinska Institutet, St. Erik Eye Hospital and NovoNordisk to conduct a first-in-human clinical trialaimed at treatingdry AMD with our hESC-RPE cells.

A platform for cellular regenerative treatments of retinaldiseases

Cellular regenerative treatments face thecaveat of immunorejection of allogeneic donorcells. In a collaborative effort with Prof Fredrik Lanner, hESC cells have been genetically engineered to combat transplantation rejection and act as universal donor for cell-based treatments for degenerative retinal diseases. Currently, we are establishing methodology to efficiently produce hESC-derived photoreceptors to fully address cellular regenerative treatments of retinal diseases

A preclinical bioengineeringapproach forthe treatment of Diabetes

The Kvanta/André Lab is dedicated at establishing clinically relevant models for a cell-basedtreatmentfor diabetes. The overall aim of our collaborative project between Karolinska Institutet, Royal institute of Technology (KTH) and SpiberTechnologiesis to develop hESC-derived glucose-sensing insulin-producing cells as a source of transplantable organoids into the eye for the sustainable treatment of diabetes.

Maria Persson