Centers & Labs

RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration

Project Leader: Masayo Takahashi (M.D., Ph.D.)
Deputy Project Leader: Michiko MANDAI (M.D., Ph.D.)
Deputy Project Leader: Sunao SUGITA (M.D., Ph.D.)
Masayo  Takahashi(M.D., Ph.D.) Sunao Sugita

The retina has been called the "approachable part of the brain", owing to its relatively simple structure and location near the body surface. For these reasons, it serves as a useful and experimentally amenable model of the central nervous system. Until very recently, it was thought that the retina was entirely incapable of regenerating in adult mammals, but we now know that at least new retinal neurons can be generated after being damaged. This has opened up new hope that the ability to regenerate neurons and even to reconstitute the neural network may be retained in the adult retina. We are now exploring the exciting prospect that, by transplanting cells from outside of the retina or by regeneration from intrinsic progenitor cells, it may be possible to restore lost function of damaged retinas in a day. Our goal is to study retinal regeneration based on both a strong foundation in basic research and a solid clinical evidence.

Research Subjects

  • retinal cell transplantation
  • induction of retinal cells from various stem/progenitor cells
  • retinal regeneration by intrinsic retinal stem cells
  • gene diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa
  • relationship between photoreceptor death and environment in retinitis pigmentosa

Selected Publications

  1. Hiroyuki Kamao, et al.:
    "Characterization of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Retinal Pigment Epithelium Cell Sheets Aiming for Clinical Application."
    Stem Cell Reports Vol. 2 1–14 (2014)
  2. Kohei Homma, et al.:
    "Developing Rods Transplanted into the Degenerating Retina of Crx-knockout Mice Exhibit Neural Activity Similar to Native Photoreceptors."
    Stem Cells 31:1149-59 (2013)
  3. Sunao Sugita, et al.:
    "Role of IL-22- and TNF-α-Producing Th22 Cells in Uveitis Patients with Behcet's Disease."
    J Immunol. 190:5799-808 (2013)
  4. Satoshi Nojima, et al.:
    "A point mutation in Semaphorin 4A associates with defective endosomal sorting and causes retinal degenerataion"
    Nature Communications. Volume:4, Article number: 1406 doi:10.1038/ncomms2420 (2013)
  5. Takuya Kuroda, et al.:
    "Highly Sensitive In Virtro Methods for Detection of Residual Undifferentiated Cells in Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells Derived from Human iPS Cells"
    Plos ONE, 7(5), e37342 (2012)
  6. Hosono K, et al.:
    "Two Novel Mutations in the EYS Gene Are Possible Major Causes of Autosomal Recessive Retinitis Pigmentosa in the Japanese Population"
    Plos One,7(2).e31036 (2012)
  7. Okita K, et al.:
    "A more efficient method to generate integration-free human iPS cells"
    Nat Methods. 8(5) 409-12 (2011)
  8. Jin Z B, et al.:
    "Modeling Pathogenesis of Retinal Degeneration Using Patient-derived Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells"
    Plos One,6(2).e17084 (2011)
  9. Osakada F, et al
    "Toward the generation of rod and cone photoreceptors from mouse, monkey and human embryonic stem cells."
    Nat Biotechnol 26. 215-24 (2008)
  10. Osakada F, et al.:
    "Wnt signaling promotes regeneration in the retina of adult mammals."
    Neurosci 27. 4210-9 (2007)

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Masayo Takahashi
Project Leader

Core Members

Michiko Mandai
Deputy Project Leader
Sunao Sugita
Deputy Project Leader
Hiroshi Akimaru
Research Scientist
Akiko Suga
Research Scientist
Chikako Morinaga
Research Scientist
Jun Kaneko
Research Scientist
Naoshi Koide
Research Scientist
Akishi Onishi
Research Scientist
Yuko Iwasaki
Junior Research Associate
Satoshi Iraha
Junior Research Associate
Yuuki Arai
Research Associate
Akihiro Tachibana
Research Associate
Momo Fujii
Technical Staff I
Yukako Hirao
Technical Staff II
Naoko Hayashi
Technical Staff II
Kyoko Iseki
Technical Staff II
Chikako Yamada
Technical Staff II
Kanako Kawai
Technical Staff II
Shino Hirahara
Technical Staff II
Noriko Sakai
Technical Staff II
Yumiko Shibata
Technical Staff II
Motoki Terada
Technical Staff II
Tomoyo Hashiguchi
Technical Staff II
Ryo Yoshida
Technical Staff II
Ayumi Hono
Technical Staff II
Miwa Okada
Technical Staff II
Hitomi Takakubo
Technical Staff II
Hiromi Ito
Technical Staff II

Contact information

2-2-3 Minatojima-minamimachi, Chuo-ku
Kobe, Hyogo
650-0047 Japan

Email: retinalab [at]

Recent Research Results