Could stem cell therapy be used to treat sight-loss early?

Research details

  • Type of funding: Early Career Investigator Award
  • Grant Holder: Dr Reinhold Medina Benavente
  • Institute: Queen’s University Belfast
  • Region: Northern Ireland
  • Start date: October 2010
  • End Date: September 2013
  • Priority:
  • Eye Category:


In conditions such as central/branch vein occlusion, diabetic retinopathy and others, blood vessels in the light-sensitive part of the eye (the retina) become damaged. This is known as ‘ischaemic retinopathy’. It means that the retina is not supplied with oxygen and nutrition and can lead to severe sight loss.

Most current treatments for ischaemic retinopathies focus on the later stages, when sight loss has occurred. They don’t tackle the underlying causes. But recent research by the team suggests that certain blood vessel (vascular) stem cells can be injected into patients to help blood vessels to repair themselves.

In this project Dr Medina Benevente is studying one type of vascular stem cell to develop the best process of growing and delivering the cells as well as how effective they are as a treatment, in an animal model.