The University of Colorado Department of Ophthalmology’s ocular stem cell and regeneration research program, CellSight, was awarded the top two prizes in the National Eye Institute’s 3D Retinal Organoid Challenge (NEI 3D ROC). The NEI, part of the National Institutes of Health, launched the three-phase challenge in 2017 to stimulate research using retina organoids. These organoids are similar to human retinas but are grown in a lab from stem cells, enabling researchers to study eye diseases and treatments noninvasively.
A team led by Maria Natalia Vergara, Ph.D., Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Eye Center, University of Colorado is awarded $60,000 for developing an organoid derived from stem cells engineered to fluoresce which allows the organoid to demonstrate the cellular composition more clearly and efficiently. This advancement allows for improved organoid differentiation that can be used to screen and validate drugs more readily.
The advent of stem cell-derived retinal organoids has brought forth unprecedented opportunities for developmental and physiological studies, while presenting new therapeutic promise for retinal degenerative diseases.
The mouse retina comprises seven major cell types that exist in differing proportions. They are generated from multipotent progenitors in a stochastic manner, such that the relative frequency of any given type generated changes over time.
How retinal bipolar cell interneurons are specified and assigned to specialized subtypes is only partially understood. In part, this is due to a lack of early pan- and subtype-specific bipolar cell markers.