Eyes don’t always last a lifetime. Age-related blindness, retinal degeneration and other disorders can rob a person of the delight of sight too soon. In other cases, developmental disorders can deny a person vision from the get-go. To improve understanding of retinal development, disease and regeneration, researchers are devising ways to grow the tissue in culture. One such approach developed recently involves growing complex 3D retinal organoids – mimicking the tissue organisation and gene expression patterns of real retinas – from mouse or human embryonic stem cells. After one week in specialised culture the cells form eyefields, like the two pictured, and bear the expected range of important developmental factors (red, green and, when combined, yellow). And after a further two weeks the organoids are complete. The lab-grown tissue should not only provide insight into retina biology, but may even provide source material for cell replacement therapies of the future.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.