Stem Cells Form Light-Sensitive 3-D Retinal TissueNational Institutes of Health Jun 23, 2014
Researchers induced human stem cells to create a 3-D retina structure that responds to light. The finding may aid the study of eye diseases and could eventually lead to new therapies.
When we view a sunset or a soccer game, an intricate, orchestrated series of events takes place in our eyes. Light passes through the front part of each eye and is refracted and focused on the retina, a thin, delicate tissue at the back of our eyes. The retina contains many specialized cells, including photoreceptor cells, which convert light into electrical signals. These signals are then processed and sent to the brain. If the photoreceptor cells malfunction or die, vision loss and blindness can occur.
Researchers have previously shown that induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can grow into a type of retinal cell under certain cell culture conditions. These types of stem cells are adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to take on the characteristics of embryonic stem cells. They can grow indefinitely in the laboratory and can theoretically change, or differentiate, into all cell types found in the body.
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