Retinitis pigmentosa covers a group of genetic disorders that affect the capacity of the retina to respond to light. People who suffer this disease, one in 4,000 worldwide, gradually lose their sight. My group and I are studying how to regenerate the retina. In previous studies we tried an approach in animal models based on bone marrow stem cells which we transplanted into retinas, and which yielded good results.
To transfer the study to humans we needed other models – retina organoids, which are miniature human organs – in which to transplant the stem cells, to observe whether they integrated into the tissue and ended up becoming photoreceptors. In this investigation we work with Núria Montserrat, ICREA researcher at the Institut de Bioenginyeria de Catalunya, who is an expert in the generation of human organoids. With these miniaturized organs we can very precisely imitate the human context, which is helping us get ever closer to bringing our research to the patients.