Host: Professor Sahika Inal
Abstract: Inherited retinal dystrophies and late-stage age-related macular degeneration, for which treatments remain limited, are among the most prevalent causes of legal blindness. Retinal prostheses have been developed to stimulate the inner retinal network; however, lack of sensitivity and resolution, and the need for wiring or external cameras, have limited their application. Here I report on the use of conjugated polymer nanoparticles (P3HT NPs), showing that they mediate light-evoked stimulation of retinal neurons and persistently rescue visual functions when subretinally injected in a rat model of retinitis pigmentosa. In particular I will report on recent results showing that the organic liquid prosthesis is effective also in retinas that have undergone a process of rewiring caused by the loss of photoreceptor function.
Guglielmo Lanzani is a physicist, with a background in organic semiconductor photophysics. He teaches at Politecnico di Milano and he has served since 2010 as Director of the Center for Nano Science and Technology at Italian Institute of Technology. He studies photoresponsive materials able to induce light sensitivity and signaling in biological systems. The ultimate goal is to realize photo-driven human-machine interfaces for application in regenerative medicine, prosthetics and hybrid robotics. He has recently developed, in collaboration with neuroscientist and medical doctors, a new retina prosthesis that exploit semiconducting polymer nanoparticles for rescuing vision in photodetector-degraded retinas. He is funding partner in three start-ups (NOVAVIDO, RIBES TECH and SAMS Technology).