Public Release: 

Retina researcher from Dresden receives EYEnovative award for the second time

Cell-based model is intended to help with the elucidation of a malignant nervous system disease of children

Technische Universität Dresden

The prize is endowed with 25.000 Euros and was granted to the neuroscientist for a collaborative research project with Prof. Alexander Storch, professor for neurodegenerative diseases at the Medical Faculty Carl Gustav Carus, the DZNE and deputy director of the clinic and polyclinic for neurology. The „EYEnovative Research Award" funds innovative projects that promote a better understanding of retina diseases and that have the potential to be the basis for novel therapies. Therefore, the award makes an important contribution to the translation of successful basic research into clinical practice.

The application of the researchers from Dresden is based on the project "Development of cell-based human models for the research of retinal diseases based on the example of Juvenile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (JNCL)". Aim of the project is the development and investigation of cell-based models of the JNCL disease by three-dimensional human retina, so-called retina organoids, from induced pluripotent stem cells. The planned project is also supported by the NCL foundation.

With the award-winning project, Dr. Karl and his colleagues dedicate themselves to Juvenile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis, one of the most common childhood neurodegeneration. The loss of vision due to the degeneration of retina cells during childhood at about age 7-10 is the first syndrome that leads to the diagnosis of the disease in the first place. The vision loss has an immediate devastating impact on the quality of life. Unfortunately, the disease does not stop at the retina, but the patients suffer from loss of nerve cells in the entire central nervous system and mostly do not live beyond age 30.

„The investigation of diseases such as JNCL in animal models brings progress, but the development of human cell-based models offers new opportunities for researching JNCL pathomechanisms, for the discovery of new approaches for therapeutic strategies as well as for the validation of therapies," explains Dr. Karl. Aim of the project, now made possible through the research award, is the development of a 3D-retina cell model for studies of underlying pathomechanisms. The research project is based on the utilization of induced pluripotent stem cells, which are a significant tool in biomedical basic research since the awarding of the Nobel Prize in 2012.

„The project underlines the well-established close interactions between clinicians and basic researchers at the campus Dresden-Johannstadt and for the translation of the research results into clinical application," says Elly Tanaka, director of the CRTD who is very pleased with the repeated recognition of the junior group leader at the CRTD and the DZNE.


Picture: Prof. Dr. Olaf Strauß and Mike Karl


Press Contact
Dr. Sabine Matthiä
DFG Research Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden - Cluster of Excellence at the TU Dresden
Phone: +49 351/ 458-82054

The CRTD was set up as an interdisciplinary and interconnected network of 17 research groups in the core center and over 75 principal investigators from seven research institutes in Dresden. At the moment, seven professors and ten group leaders are doing research at the CRTD. CRTD members are located in the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) of the TU Dresden, the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, the Max Bergmann Center of Biomaterials, clinical departments of the University Hospital "Carl Gustav Carus", or the Medical Theoretical Center. In addition, eight companies support the CRTD network that provides the expertise to develop novel regenerative therapies fast and efficiently.

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