Scaffold-supported stem cells grown and transplantable into the retina in a biodegradable tray
Sweeping a curve at the back of our eyes, the retina helps to capture light, studded with tiny photoreceptors which act like pixels in a camera sensor, but are often lost with age or disease leading to blindness. Here, researchers grow human stem cells inside an 'ice cube tray' design – an artificial scaffold where the cells change into retinal pigment epithelium cells and knit together in multiple layers – mimicking the healthy outer layers of the retina. Researchers hope to transplant these scaffolds into damaged eyes, letting the biodegradable trays crumble away while leaving a densely-packed bed of healthy cells behind to restore vision. Modified versions of these biocompatible scaffolds, built using a process called photolithography, may help in restoring or maintaining the function of other tissues, too.
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