Our core technology and expertise revolve around the combination of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells with functional biomaterials.
Our work is rooted in the pioneering research of Nobel and Millennium Technology Prize laureate, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka. Dr. Yamanaka successfully established induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) known for their self-renewal capacity and their remarkable potential to differentiate into various cell types throughout the human body.
StemSight team member Sarita has had the firsthand opportunity to learn from Shinya Yamanaka's laboratory, delving into the intricacies of iPSC research.
Corneal blindness is a global problem affecting over 12 million people
Our aim is to address the significant shortage of corneal tissue transplants by creating off-the-shelf spare parts for the cornea that do not rely on donor tissue.
We have worked with human pluripotent stem cells, such as iPS cells, for the study and treatment of eye diseases for over a decade in one of the world-class research facilities of Tampere University, Finland. Building on this experience, StemSight is developing new cell therapy products for the treatment of blindness.
StemSight's first target indication is limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD), a severe rare disease of the cornea currently without valid treatment options for patients suffering from LSCD in both eyes. StemSight's off-the-shelf cell therapy product could provide these patients with a cure to regain their vision.
In the future, we aim to use the same stem cells to make other types of corneal cells, so that we can help patients suffering from other forms of blindness, such as corneal endothelial dystrophies.
Limbal stem cell deficiency
Limbal stem cell deficiency - or LSCD for short - is a severe but rare form of corneal blindness. In this condition limbal stem cells are damaged and lost, for example from chemical injuries or burns. Limbal stem cells normally supply our eyes with new corneal epithelial cells, which are needed for clear vision. When the normal renewal of the ocular surface is compromised, blood vessels and surrounding tissue can start to grow over the cornea, resulting in impaired vision, pain and discomfort.
Because LSCD lacks good treatment options and typically affects young people, even children, it is a devastating disease.
Corneal endothelial dystrophies
Corneal endothelium is the inner lining cell layer of the cornea, which maintains corneal clarity through pumping excess water out of the cornea. Corneal endothelial cell loss, and the resulting corneal swelling, is the main reason for needing a corneal transplant in the Western World today. The probability of corneal endothelial dystrophies rises with increasing age.
With the aging population and the overwhelming shortage of cornea donors, there is a pressing need to find new alternative sources for corneal endothelial cells.