Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Stem Cells Form Light-Sensitive 3-D Retinal Tissue

Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Researchers induced human stem cells to create a 3-D retina structure that responds to light. The finding may aid the study of eye diseases and could eventually lead to new therapies.

When we view a sunset or a soccer game, an intricate, orchestrated series of events takes place in our eyes. Light passes through the front part of each eye and is refracted and focused on the retina, a thin, delicate tissue at the back of our eyes. The retina contains many specialized cells, including photoreceptor cells, which convert light into electrical signals. These signals are then processed and sent to the brain. If the photoreceptor cells malfunction or die, vision loss and blindness can occur.

Researchers have previously shown that induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can grow into a type of retinal cell under certain cell culture conditions. These types of stem cells are adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to take on the characteristics of embryonic stem cells. They can grow indefinitely in the laboratory and can theoretically change, or differentiate, into all cell types found in the body.

Previous work showed that mouse and human embryonic stem cells can develop into a 3-D optic cup in culture that resembles the embryonic vertebrate eye. A team led by Drs. Xiufeng Zhong and M. Valeria Canto-Soler at Johns Hopkins University set out to determine to what extent iPS cells could be prompted to differentiate and acquire structural and functional features similar to a human retina. The work was funded in part by NIH’s National Eye Institute (NEI) and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

The scientists grew human iPS cells in culture dishes in the lab. They reported online on June 10, 2014, in Nature Communications that they were able to coax the cells to gradually take on the characteristics of retinal cells without adding many of the chemicals typically used to induce the cells to mature.

Over time, the iPS cells spontaneously formed cup-like 3-D structures in a sequence of events that mimicked what occurs during human development. The structures developed layers containing all the major cell types that are normally present in the retina, including photoreceptor cells.

To determine whether the photoreceptor cells were sensitive to light, the researchers subjected cells to a flash of light and measured the electrical responses in individual cells. A few cells responded, indicating they had reached a fairly advanced stage of development under the culture conditions.

“We have basically created a miniature human retina in a dish that not only has the architectural organization of the retina but also has the ability to sense light,” Canto-Soler says. “When we began this work, we didn't think stem cells would be able to build up a retina almost on their own. In our system, somehow the cells knew what to do.”

The accomplishment may lead to better tissue culture models to study human eye diseases and explore new therapies.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Lucentis Effective for Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
NIH-funded clinical trial marks first major advance in therapy in 40 years.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Batten Disease may Benefit from Gene Therapy
NIH-funded animal study suggests one-shot approach to injecting genes.
Friday, November 13, 2015
Molecule Proves Key to Brain Repair After Stroke
Scientists found that a molecule known as growth and differentiation factor 10 (GDF10) plays a key role in repair mechanisms following stroke.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
NIH Researchers Link Single Gene Variation to Obesity
Variation in the BDNF gene may affect brain’s regulation of appetite, study suggests.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Researchers Identify Potential Alternative to CRISPR-Cas Genome Editing Tools
New Cas enzymes shed light on evolution of CRISPR-Cas systems.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Potential Alternative to CRISPR-Cas Genome Editing Tools
New Cas enzymes shed light on evolution of CRISPR-Cas systems.
Friday, October 23, 2015
Charting Genetic Variation Across the Globe
An international team of scientists has created the world’s largest catalog of human genetic differences in populations around the globe.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Gene Therapy Staves Off Blindness from Retinitis Pigmentosa in Canine Model
NIH-funded study suggests therapeutic window may extend to later-stage disease.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Nuclear Transport Problems Linked to ALS and FTD
NIH-supported studies point to potential new target for treating neurodegenerative diseases.
Monday, October 19, 2015
Scientists Develop Genetic Blueprint of Inner Ear Cell Development
Two studies in mice use new technique to provide insight into cell development critical for hearing, balance.
Saturday, October 17, 2015
$21M Invested in Research Hubs in Developing Countries
The National Institutes of Health and other U.S. and Canadian partners are investing $20.9 million dollars over five years to establish seven regional research and training centers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Friday, October 09, 2015
NIH Breast Cancer Research to Focus On Prevention
A new phase of the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP), focused on prevention, is being launched at the National Institutes of Health.
Friday, October 09, 2015
NIH Grantees Win 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The 2015 Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to NIH grantees Paul Modrich, Ph.D., of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C.; and Aziz Sancar, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.,.
Thursday, October 08, 2015
NIH Announces High-Risk, High-Reward Research Awardees
NIH to fund 78 awards to support highly innovative biomedical research.
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
New Gene Therapy for Vision Loss From a Mitochondrial Disease
NIH-funded study shows success in targeting mitochondrial DNA in mice.
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
The MaxSignal Colistin ELISA Test Kit from Bioo Scientific
Kit can help prevent the antibiotic apocalypse by keeping last resort drugs out of the food supply.
"Good" Mozzie Virus Might Hold Key to Fighting Human Disease
Australian scientists have discovered a new virus carried by one of the country’s most common pest mosquitoes.
Non-Disease Proteins Kill Brain Cells
Scientists at the forefront of cutting-edge research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have shown that the mere presence of protein aggregates may be as important as their form and identity in inducing cell death in brain tissue.
Closing the Loop on an HIV Escape Mechanism
Research team finds that protein motions regulate virus infectivity.
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Potential Treatment for Life-Threatening Viral Infections Revealed
The findings point to new therapies for Dengue, West Nile and Ebola.
World’s First Therapeutic Venom Database
Open-source library describes nearly 43,000 effects on the human body.
Biologists Induce Flatworms to Grow Heads and Brains of Other Species
Findings shed light on role of a new kind of epigenetic signaling in evolution, could yield clues for understanding birth defects and regeneration.
Fat Cells Originating from Bone Marrow Found in Humans
Cells could contribute to diabetes, heart disease.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos