Aug 8, 2016

Stem cell breakthrough allows scientists to grow and assemble human eyes

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, innovation

“An ultimate goal of stem cell research is to turn on the regenerative potential of one’s own stem cells for tissue and organ repair and disease therapy,” said Dr. Kang Zhang of the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

You’ll soon be able to see the future with eyes grown in petri dishes. Scientists in Japan’s Osaka University have found a new way to turn stem cells into a human eyeball in what is (needless to say) a remarkable breakthrough for the medical community. According to lead biologist Kohji Nishida, a small sample of adult skin is all that would be required in order to grow retinas, corneas, lenses, and other key components of the eye.

To help visualize the process, the video above demonstrates the growth of human iPS cells over several weeks, as they spontaneously form four concentric zones. Each of these zones exhibits the characteristics of a different part of the eye, including the cornea, the lens, and the retina.

During the trial phase of their experiment, the Japanese team managed to culture and grow sheaths of rabbit corneas that actually enabled blind animals to see again. In tests, lab-grown corneas were given to rabbits born without this crucial part of the eye, resulting in restored vision. And while humans have yet to experience the potential benefits of this breakthrough, our species is next.

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