INSERM/UEVE UMR 861, I-STEM, AFM
Christelle Monville obtained a PhD in Neurobiology at the French University of Créteil in 2000. She is currently professor at Evry’s University and team leader at the Istem lab (France). Since ten years, the objectives of her group (Istem, www.istem.eu) are (1) to develop pre-clinical studies required for the development of human pluripotent stem cells cellular therapy for the treatment of a number of monogenic retinal diseases and (2) disease modeling and drug discovery using patient-specific human induced Pluripotent Stem (hiPS). Replacement of defective retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) by new RPE cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESC) provides a novel rational approach for treating forms of blindness that affect the RPE. First attempts in clinical trials demonstrated safety for the delivery of such cells as a suspension. Transplanting a functional monolayer of RPE cells is the next challenge to effectively cure patients. We successfully developed, under clinically compatible conditions, a tissue-engineered product (TEP) consisting of RPE cells derived from hESCs disposed on a biocompatible substrate: the human amniotic membrane. A clinical trial on patients suffering from certain forms of Retinitis Pigmentosa (NCT03963154) has started in 2019, including 12 patients. The future will be to provide more complex tissue and upscale the production of retinal cells.