Okayama University Researchers Successfully Implant Retinal Prosthesis in Monkey Eyes

June 29, 2018: By Jon Swedien

Researchers at Okayama University surgically implanted a retinal prosthesis in monkeys suffering from macular degeneration, the university announced June 28.

The scientists published their results in the journal Artificial Organs.

The university said the study demonstrated the implantation’s surgical feasibility. They also said it marks an important step toward the development of a treatment for patients with macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

The subretinal implant, known as Okayama University-type retinal prosthesis (OUReP), is made of a material based on photoelectric dye molecules, capable of converting light into electric potentials, mimicking phototransduction in mammalian eyes.

Monkeys were used because their retinas have a macular structure similar to human retinas. Also, monkey studies are a necessary intermediate step required by Japan’s Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency toward the development of implants for human eyes, the university said.

All monkeys involved in the experiments were healthy during the observation period, the university said. The researchers checked that no monkeys developed retinal toxicity or inflammatory cells.

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