Jo Zhou portrait
Jo Zhou portrait

HHINT Kickstarter for transplantable corneal stem cells

Jo Huiqing Zhou, researcher at RIMLS-Science, has received an HHINT Kickstarter from Health~Holland for her research project iCorneaTherapy. In this project, she collaborates with the Finnish company StemSights on the development of transplantable corneal stem cells. With the grant of €239.000, the research team aims to bring transplantable corneal stem cells one step closer to the market.

Damage to the cornea

Damage to the cornea of the eye is one the most prevalent causes of blindness. The current treatment using a donor cornea is not optimal, because donor corneas are not always available, and the transplanted cornea is often rejected by the patient’s immune system.

Stem cell therapy

To solve this problem, the iCorneaTherapy project is working on an alternative method to generate corneal stem cells suitable for transplantation from a special type of stem cells with low rejection risks. The ambition of Zhou and her team is to gather critical information about the quality and safety of these stem cells and to establish a quality control pipeline for the stem cell production. This is done by using advanced single-cell technology that has been set up by the Zhou team. Such information is crucial to further develop these stem cells for human cell therapy.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2025. 

The collaboration project is co-funded by the PPP Allowance made available by Health~Holland, Top Sector Life Sciences & Health, to stimulate public-private partnerships.