Using Laser Pulses to Smooth the Way for Transplanted Retinal Ganglion Cells in Glaucoma
For cell transplants to be most efficient as a glaucoma treatment, the cells must get past a membrane barrier to the retina. Current methods to open this membrane risk collateral damage to the tissues. Karen Peynshaert, PhD, and her colleagues are working on a way to perforate the membrane as little as possible to allow passage of transplanted cells.
Cell transplants in glaucoma consist of retinal ganglion cells from a donor that are injected into the eye. From the point of injection, the cells must migrate to the retina where, with signals from the barrier membrane, they can become established as replacement ganglion cells. Dr. Peynshaert and coworkers have developed a laser-based method to create the smallest possible opening in the membrane for cell passage while ensuring that the membrane can still send these important signals.
The cutting-edge process involves pulsing laser beams at a heat-absorbing dye added to the target area. Under the heat stimulus, the dye will produce tiny bubbles of hot vapor that last less than the blink of an eye. As the bubbles collapse, they release little bursts of energy, disrupting the membrane only in that space and opening the way for cells to pass.
Dr. Peynshaert and her colleagues plan to test this controlled perforation of the membrane in lab models, tracking the success of the transplants and the safety of the process. If successful, the method will offer a controlled, targeted way to create this passage for cells while causing the least disruption to important structures of the eye.