Biologists at Johns Hopkins University have successfully grown Human Retina Tissue from scratch in a lab. The purpose of the research was to discover “how colour-detecting cells are made?”
Although, lab-grown retinal cells would not be used for transplants yet. But, this research could help to develop therapies for eye diseases such as colour blindness and macular degeneration.
This lab-created organoids will serve as a model for other researchers to study human development on a cellular level.
Interesting aspects of the Research
- The retinas were grown from stem cells. Researchers said, “Everything we study was same as a normal developing eye, just growing in a dish.”
- The team focused on the cells that allow people to see blue, red and green—the three cone photoreceptors in the human eye.
- During the growth process, the blue-detecting cells were the first to grow. They were followed by the red-detecting cells and then green-detecting ones.
- The interesting thing to notice is that these organoids take nine months to develop just like a human baby.
- It was discovered that the flow of thyroid hormone regulates whether cells become blue, red, or green photoreceptors.
- The levels of thyroid hormone are entirely controlled by the eye tissue itself.
- The team was able to manipulate the outcome, creating retina that can only detect only blue one, or only detects green and red.
- The team concludes that children who are born with lowered thyroid hormone may be more prone to vision disorders.
In future, the researchers hope to develop therapeutic applications that involve these colour-detecting cells. The aim is to treat macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. This would be done by understanding how to grow a new macula using the same approaches.