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Marius Ader Group

Development of cell-based therapies for the treatment of retinopathies

Portrait Marius Ader


Within the last decade the field of retinal research, in particular the development of therapeutic strategies to treat visual impairment and blindness, made significant improvements. The relative easy accessibility of the retina and the increasing knowledge about its architecture and function has made the retina to one of the best studied parts of the CNS, which consequently also entailed major developments towards therapeutic interventions, such as retinal prosthesis, pharmacological, gene therapeutic or cell-based strategies. These approaches provided first evidence that visual function can in principle be restored in retinal degenerative diseases caused by photoreceptor or retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) loss. Conceptually, replacement of photoreceptors/RPE via cell transplantation represents a highly attractive treatment option, as restoration of the native light-processing pathways might most closely resemble normal visual perception. Although diverse cell populations have been used for transplantation experiments into the retina for more than two decades, in depth analysis of the specific molecular requirements of donor cells as well as the host tissue for functional repair have just recently been initiated. Within our lab the requirements for successful photoreceptor or RPE replacement are studied in mouse models of retinal degeneration with the aim to treat visual impairment and blindness.

Marius Ader – Retina Research CRTD video
Marius Ader Research: Figure
Figure: Integration of transplanted human iPSC-derived photoreceptors into the adult mouse retina; yellow: donor cell nuclei (mCherry), magenta: human mitochondria, green: photoreceptors (recoverin), blue: cell nuclei (DAPI).

Future Projects and Goals

For the development of cell-based therapeutic treatments of retinopathies work will be focused on the following key elements:

  • Isolation and enrichment of rod/cone photoreceptors and RPE from pluripotent stem cell-derived retinal organoids
  • Manipulation of host tissue to enhance cell integration
  • Transplantation of photoreceptors/RPE into mouse models of retinopathies
  • Analysis of integrated donor cells: morphology, expression patterns, synaptic connections, functionality

Methodological and Technical Expertise

  • Cell culture
  • Retinal transplantation
  • Retinal degeneration models
  • Immunohisto/cytochemistry
  • Electroretinogram


Since 2014
W2 Professor, Cell Replacement in the Mammalian Retina, CRTD, TU Dresden

Group Leader, Retinal Research, CRTD, TU Dresden, Germany

Senior Research Fellow, Ocular Genetics Unit, Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Jan–May 2003
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Ophthalmic Clinic, University of Hamburg, Germany

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center of Molecular Neurobiology (ZMNH), University of Hamburg, Germany

PhD in Neurobiology, ETH Zurich, Switzerland and ZMNH, University of Hamburg, Germany

Diploma (Masters) in Biology, University of Bielefeld, Germany

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Ader Group at TUD CRTD

Selected Publications

Herbig M*, Tessmer K*, Nötzel M, Nawaz AA, Santos-Ferreira T, Borsch O, Gasparini SJ, Guck J, Ader M
Label‐free imaging flow cytometry for analysis and sorting of enzymatically dissociated tissues
Sci Rep, in press (2022)

Karimi P, Gheisari A, Gasparini SJ, Baharvand H, Shekari F, Satarian L, Ader M
Crocetin prevents RPE cells from oxidative stress through protection of cellular metabolic function and activation of ERK1/2
Int J Mol Sci, 22;21(8):2949 (2020)

Gasparini SJ*, Llonch S*, Borsch O, Ader M
Transplantation of photoreceptors into the degenerative retina: Current state and future perspectives
Prog Eye Retin Res, 69:1–37 (2019)

Santos-Ferreira T, Llonch S, Borsch O, Postel K, Haas J, Ader M
Retinal transplantation of photoreceptors results in donor-host cytoplasmic exchange
Nat Commun, 7:13028 (2016)

Santos-Ferreira T, Postel K, Stutzki H, Kurth T, Zeck G, Ader M
Daylight vision repair by cell transplantation
Stem Cells, 33(1):79–90 (2015)


Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden
TU Dresden
Fetscherstraße 105
01307 Dresden