Identification of Human Retinal Stem-Like Cells for Retina Regeneration
Human retinal stem cells hold great promise in regenerative medicine, yet their existence and characteristics remain ambiguous. Combining single-cell multi-omics and organoid technologies, we isolate a unique cell subpopulation, named human neural retinal stem-like cells (hNRSCs), from fetal retinas and human retinal organoids (hROs). The hNRSCs reside in the peripheral retina and non-pigmented ciliary marginal zone, exhibiting substantial self-renewal and differentiation potential in vitro. Like retina-derived hNRSCs, single-cell and spatial transcriptome analysis showed that the hROs-derived hNRSCs also promote hROs regeneration into all precursor and mature retinal cells. Furthermore, transplantation of hRO-derived hNRSCs into retinal degeneration mice can repair retinas and improve visual function. Our work identifies and characterizes a new stem cell population with great therapeutic potential for treating retinal damage and regeneration.