Real Retinas Grown in Lab Hold Eye Transplant Promise


Credit: M. Eiraku and Y.Sasai

Real Retinas Grown in Lab Hold Eye Transplant Promise

Lab-grown human organs mayِ seem likeِ futuristic technology, butِ in a lab inِ Kobe, Japan, researchers areِ growing newِ retinas inِ a dish.
It mimicked theِ complex structure ofِ the retina inِ the eye, saidِ Yoshiki Sasai atِ the RIKEN Center forِ Developmental Biology inِ Kobe, lead researcher onِ the study, published tomorrow (April 7) inِ the journal Nature.
Diseases ofِ the retina, suchِ asِ retinitis pigmentosa, whichِ occurs inِ aboutِ 1 inِ 4,000 people, canِ result inِ eventual blindness.

Differentiated development

The development ofِ this eye-cup isِ almost fully self-directed.
The researchers onlyِ needed toِ coax theِ embryonic stem cells, whichِ canِ becomeِ anyِ cell inِ the human body, intoِ becomingِ eye cells.
They expected toِ seeِ a culture ofِ one type ofِ retinal cells, butِ afterِ this laboratory-based nudge (which involved hormones andِ other substances) theِ cells grew, changed intoِ several differentِ types andِ arranged themselvesِ intoِ this structure allِ on theirِ own.

Eye-catching applications

As theِ testing goesِ forward, thereِ areِ many possibleِ applications ofِ these eye structures.
Researchers areِ currently testing ifِ these cells canِ actuallyِ detect light andِ send signals, butِ they haveِ high hopes, Sasai said.
They areِ alsoِ working onِ making theِ sameِ eye-cup structures fromِ human stem cells, thoughِ theِ structure isِ larger andِ takes muchِ longer toِ develop thanِ the mouse eye.