Japanese scientists led by Yoshiki Sasai have succeeded in imitating the highly complex development of mammalian eyes under laboratory conditions.
The team from the Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe was able to coax mouse stem cells with the help of a special nutrient solution into transforming into an optic cup capable of transmitting optical signals.
Until now the transformation of stem cells into an eye was regarded as impossible. In order to provide a suitable environment for differentiation, the scientists immersed the stem cell cultures in an intercellular substance comprising polysaccharides and proteins (growth and differentiation factors) that normally facilitate three-dimensional growth within the body. In the Japanese bioreactors optic cups grew which may be considered similar to natural structures. They possessed a retina with all nerve cell types aligned correctly.
The results follow a trend that has been taking place for which traces for quite some time; in the future, organs for transplantation will be able to be come out of 3D printers.
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