Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Electric Eye

Lab-grown model of the retina allows treatment testing and potential for creating replacement retinal cells to restore sight

25 November 2018

Electric Eye

Bathing in light at the back of the eye, the retina is home to millions of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), ready to carry electrical impulses – with information about the outside world – to the brain. In this lab-grown retinal organoid, a sort of biological ‘model’ of the retina, stringy bundles of artificially-coloured RGCs stretch out (red). They use spiky growth cones (coloured green) to feel their way, much like the real optic nerve when it first develops towards the brain. Grown from human pluripotent stem cells, these organoids may help to test treatments for eyes damaged by conditions like glaucoma. In the future, it might also be possible to grow replacement RGCs from a patient’s own stem cells, restoring sight by plugging these wiry connectors back in.

Written by John Ankers

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