Bioengineering (Basel). 2024 Jan 3;11(1):52. doi: 10.3390/bioengineering11010052.
Hereditary optic neuropathies (HONs) such as dominant optic atrophy (DOA) and Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON) are mitochondrial diseases characterized by a degenerative loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and are a cause of blindness worldwide. To date, there are only limited disease-modifying treatments for these disorders. The discovery of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology has opened several promising opportunities in the field of HON research and the search for therapeutic approaches. This systematic review is focused on the two most frequent HONs (LHON and DOA) and on the recent studies related to the application of human iPSC technology in combination with biomaterials technology for their potential use in the development of RGC replacement therapies with the final aim of the improvement or even the restoration of the vision of HON patients. To this purpose, the combination of natural and synthetic biomaterials modified with peptides, neurotrophic factors, and other low- to medium-molecular weight compounds, mimicking the ocular extracellular matrices, with human iPSC or iPSC-derived cell retinal progenitors holds enormous potential to be exploited in the near future for the generation of transplantable RGC populations.