About the project:

The project aims to develop a standardized, safe and efficient method for curing dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the most frequent cause of visual impairment that currently lacks treatment. The work will bring promising retina pigment epithelial (RPE) cell research to a clinical trial using patient-derived stem cell therapy. The Specific aims are focused at: 1) isolation, cultivation and optimization of human RPE cells, primary hRPEs and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived RPEs; 2) preparation of nanofibrous scaffold; 3) transplantation of hRPE-covered scaffolds in the subretinal space; 4) non-invasive (OCT, mfERG) and end-stage cell and tissue characterization (IHC, tEM); 5) establishment of good manufacturing practice (GMP) protocols and clinical-grade cell banking.


We successfully optimized isolation and cultivation protocol for RPE cells with high efficiency to form a monolayered epithelium. We performed many examinations of the growing and maturation of culturing porcine RPE on the standard commercial cell culture porous inserts and our nanofibrous membranes. Using various examination methods, we found good conditions for cell growing on both membranes but with better results of RPE markers on nanofibrous membranes in comparison with commercial ones. For evaluation of the epithelium quality respective tight junctions, we measured an epithelial electrical resistance where the resulting values demonstrated well cell health.


In the year 2022, the new method for culture of the human induced pluripotent cells and their differentiation in the human retina pigment epithelial (RPE) cells was introduced. This new approach was done by Mgr. Anna Brymova in Dr. Slaven Erceg’s Laboratory in Valencia, Spain. The human RPE cultured on the nanofibrous membranes, prepared by Dr. Hana Studenovska, IMCH, CAS, were transferred in the subretinal space of the immunosuppressed minipigs. This experiment represents an important step on the way to the AMD cell therapy.

Beneficiary and project partners:

Ústav živočišné fyziologie a genetiky AV ČR, v. v. i.
Fakultní nemocnice Královské Vinohrady
University of Oslo
Ústav makromolekulární chemie AV ČR, v. v. i.

The RPE4AMD project benefits from a € 1 mil. grant from Norway Grants and Technology Agency of the Czech Republic. The project is carried out under the KAPPA funding programme for applied research, experimental development and innovation, managed by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic.