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Culture method for retinal organoids

Proprietary methods to generate a retinal organoid which promotes cone and rod formation.

The challenge

Cell replacement therapy is a promising treatment for irreversible retinal cell death in diverse diseases, such as, Stargardt’s disease, Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). The final impact in all these retinal dystrophies is the loss of all photoreceptors; hence, there is a pressing need for research into the replacement of photoreceptors. Current approaches have shown that a simple 3D culture system enables differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to retinal organoids containing large numbers of photoreceptors developing alongside retinal neurons and Müller glia cells in a laminated structure that resembles the native retina. Despite these promising developments, current protocols show different efficiencies across pluripotent stem cells and result in retinal organoids with a mixture of photoreceptor cells at varying maturation states, along with non-photoreceptor cell types.

The solution

The generation of retinal organoids derived from human pluripotent stem cells provides an in vitro model for disease modelling and replacement therapies. To date, the efficiency of protocols generating retinal organoids are variable, providing all retinal cell types including photoreceptor at different maturation stages. The current invention greatly improves upon these methods by providing proprietary methods to generate a retinal organoid which promotes cone and rod formation.

The opportunity

We are interested in out-licencing this technology and/or identifying collaborative industrial partners.

Intellectual Property

  • title: Culture method for retinal organoids
  • international publication number: WO2021048569
  • applicant: Newcastle University


Zerti, D, Dorgau, B, Felemban, M, et al. Developing a simple method to enhance the generation of cone and rod photoreceptors in pluripotent stem cell-derived retinal organoids. Stem Cells. 2020; 38: 45– 51.


Catrina Mullan: