Lab-Grown Retinas May Restore Vision to People With Damaged Eyes – NDTV


Lab-grown retinal eye cells make successful connections.
A new study has indicated that lab-grown retinas may help patients with injured eyes regain their vision, which might be hailed as a huge breakthrough in the fight against blindness.
Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States have discovered that retinal cells developed from stem cells may reach out and connect with neighbours, completing a “handshake” that could indicate the cells are ready for testing in people with degenerative eye conditions.
As per a release by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, over a decade ago, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed a way to grow organised clusters of cells, called organoids, that resemble the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.
They coaxed human skin cells reprogrammed to act as stem cells to develop into layers of several types of retinal cells that sense light and ultimately transmit what we see to the brain.
According to David Gamm, the director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute and a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose lab created the organoids, “We wanted to use the cells from those organoids as replacement parts for the same types of cells that have been lost in the course of retinal diseases.”
“But after being grown in a laboratory dish for months as compact clusters, the question remained: will the cells behave appropriately after we tease them apart? Because that is key to introducing them into a patient’s eye.”
Science Alertnotes that functionality depends on cells being able to connect with one another using extensions called axons, with a chemical signal-box called a synapse forming a junction. Seeing axons stretching between cells is one thing. To ensure working connections had been made, the team pulled clusters of retinal cells apart and watched them reconnect.
Then, a rabies virus was implanted, and over the course of a week, it was observed moving between the retinal cells, showing that synaptic connections had been created.
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