Activation of retinal ganglion cells using a biomimetic artificial retina

Authors: Greco JA, Wagner NL, Jensen RJ, Lawrence DB, Ranaghan MJ, Sandberg MN, Sandberg DJ, and Birge RR.

Journal of Neural Engineering, 2021.

Scientists explore potential treatment for retinitis pigmentosa and other progressive retinal diseases

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited disorder characterized by the progressive breakdown of photoreceptor cells in the retina, leading to significant vision loss over time. Treatments including retinal prosthetics and optogenetic tools are under development for RP, but there is currently no cure for the disease. In this study, scientists investigate a protein-based artificial retina technology that integrates the microbial rhodopsin and proton pump BR into a multilayered film that stimulates retinal neural cells.

To assess the spatial sensitivity of the artificial retina films on rodent retinal ganglion cells in vitro, the researchers used Axion’s multielectrode array (MEA) platform, which demonstrated that activation is limited to the targeted receptive field. Other results suggested that the implant has the ability to stimulate the retina with light intensities similar to indoor ambient light. Although more research is needed, the scientists conclude that these findings establish the potential for an ion-mediated artificial retina to effectively restore vision in people with RP and other degenerative retinal diseases.