Arianne van Velthoven

PhD Student

VISION: Uncovering Stem Cell-Based Corneal Regeneration Using Nanotechnology and multimodal imaging

Arianne prepared herself for scientific biomedical research by studying Biomedical Sciences at KU Leuven and Radboud University. During her Master’s, she discovered her interest in the use of stem cell models to investigate the fundamental mechanisms underlying neuronal function and disfunction. In October 2019, she started her PhD at MERLN in collaboration with the Ophthalmology Department of the MUMC+ (Mor Dickman and Rudy Nuijts) and the Veneto Eye Bank Foundation to study corneal epithelial renewal and repair mediated by limbal epithelial stem cells (LESCs). Loss of LESCs after an eye injury leads to the loss of corneal epithelium and vision loss. Recovery of vision by transplanting ex vivo expanded autologous human corneal epithelial cells containing LESCs in the clinic has shown encouraging results. However the mechanisms underlying epithelial regeneration using transplanted LESCs is unclear. To learn how LESC-mediated regeneration occurs and why it sometimes fails, she will trace the transplanted cells in vivo to better understand their fate and the mechanisms of regeneration.