In what could be termed as the blessing of science and technology for the mankind, researchers have developed a miniature human retina in the laboratory from human stem cells and they claim it can sense light.
The research was done by scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Assistant professor M Valeria Canto-Soler of Johns Hopkins was the lead author of the study.
The researchers created a 3D complement of human retinal tissue in a dish in the lab. They say the lens includes photoreceptor cells that are able to respond to light.
Scientists say the newly developed equipment clears the first step in the process of converting light into images as it is able to respond to light well.
The researchers arrived at their creation following the experiment of human induced adult cells, pluripotent stem cells (iPS), which are capable of developing into most of the 200 cell types in the human body.
For the latest study, the researchers turned the iPS into retinal progenitor cells that form light-sensitive retinal tissue lining the back of the eye.
While creating them in their petri dishes, the researchers observed that the growth corresponded in both timing and duration with a human fetus’ retinal development in the womb. The photoreceptors were also able to develop outer segments. This is necessary for photoreceptors to properly work.
The researchers are hopeful that the new creation will help in developing technologies that can restore vision.
A study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was published in the journal Nature Communications.