NIH, NIST researchers use artificial intelligence for quality control of stem cell-derived tissues

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Scientists applied artificial intelligence (AI) to assess stem cell derived retinal pigment epithelium. It is a tissue that can be implanted into the eyes of patients with macular degeneration, a primary cause of blindness.

The National Eye Institute (NEI) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) combined their teams and resources to conduct a study where AI is applied to quality control of therapeutic cells and tissues. The Journal of Clinical Investigation published a report of the study recently. NEI is a department of the National Institutes of Health.

 “This AI-based method of validating stem cell-derived tissues is a significant improvement over conventional assays, which are low-yield, expensive, and require a trained user,” said Kapil Bharti, Ph.D., a senior investigator in the NEI Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Section.

“Our approach will help scale up manufacturing and will speed delivery of tissues to the clinic,” added Bharti, who led the research along with Carl Simon Jr., Ph.D., and Peter Bajcsy, Ph.D., of NIST.

Cells of the RPE nourish the light-sensing photoreceptors in the eye and are among the first to die from geographic atrophy, commonly known as “dry” AMD. Photoreceptors die without the RPE, resulting in vision loss and blindness.

The research group is developing an approach to create RPE replacement patches, using a patient’s own cells. These cells are handled in the lab and become pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs). These cells can transform into any cell type.

The scientists put these cells onto a biodegradable scaffold where they develop into a RPE. They implant the patch behind the retina in order to preserve vision.

Finally, this technique worked in an animal model and they are now designing a clinical trial on patients. Click on the link to read the full article from the NIH.

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