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Professor Liu Yizhi's Research Is Rated as One of the Top 8 Notable Advances of Life Sciences 2016 by Nature Medicine

Professor Liu Yizhi from SYSU has led a collaborative international team including researchers of China and US and found a lens on cell-mediated repair which is rated as one of the top 8 notable advances in the field of life sciences 2016 by Nature Medicine

Source: Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center of Sun Yat-sen University

Edited by: Liu Nian


In recent days, Nature Medicine has made a review of the top 8 notable advances in 7 fields of life sciences including gene therapy, immunotherapy, infectious disease, cancer, regenerative medicine, autoimmunity and neurobiology for the past year. Among them, a collaborative international team from China and the US led by Professor Liu Yizhi from Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, SYSU, achieves lens regeneration using endogenous stem cells with gain of visual function, which has been rated as the most exciting discovery in regenerative medicine of 2016. This is the only one “notable advance” research led by Chinese scientist, since the first review of notable advance in the field of life sciences by Nature Medicine in 2010.


Commenting on the finding, Nature Medicine said “Harnessing the powers of endogenous stem cells to repair tissue is a key goal of regenerative medicine because such an approach avoids possible immune rejection or tumor formation of exogenously added stem cells or their derived tissue. One such target of this approach is the eye, given that lens epithelial progenitor cells (LECs) have been described previously, and because promoting their proliferation could be a way to treat cataracts — the leading cause of blindness in the world.”

Professor Liu Yizhi and collaborators, achieved the functional lens regeneration using endogenous stem cells that allows for the treatment of human infants with congenital cataracts after 18 years’ study. This international team has isolated lens epithelial stem/progenitor cells (LECs) in mammals and shown that Pax6 and Bmi1 are required for LEC renewal. Working with healthy rabbits and macaques, the team perfected a surgical approach that uses a much smaller incision into the lens of the eye than is required in the current standard surgery, and that moves the point of the incision to the periphery of the lens. This leads to less tissue damage of the lens epithelia, which results in greater preservation of the LEC population within it and the natural regeneration of the lens over time. This approach, when translated to the clinic on 12 children with pediatric cataracts, has proved that lenses could be regenerated in humans using minimally invasive surgery with the incidence of visual axis opacification after surgery decreased by more than 20 times. The novel findings demonstrate a novel treatment strategy for cataracts and provide a new model for tissue regeneration using endogenous stem cells. The original research paper was published in the journal Nature 531, 323–328, 2016.


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