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Miniature Retina Created from Stem Cells: A Breakthrough in Vision Restoration

Miniature Retina from Stem Cells. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (USA) have achieved a significant breakthrough. Creating a ‘miniature’ retina from stem cells. This 3D human retina tissue, engineered in the lab, contains photoreceptor cells that are capable of responding to light. The initial step towards converting light into visual images.

This development opens new avenues for studying, treating, and potentially curing various ocular diseases associated with vision loss due to retinal damage. “Essentially, we’ve crafted a human retina on a lab dish that not only mirrors the architectural organization of the retina but also possesses the ability to perceive light,” states study coordinator M. Valeria Canto-Soler.

Vision relies on various cell types working together to transform light into brain-recognizable images. However, Canto-Soler cautions that photoreceptors represent just “a part of the complex vision process” involving the brain and eyes. The lab has yet to replicate all human eye functions and their interaction with the brain’s visual cortex. “Can our miniature retina produce a visual signal interpretable by the brain as an image? Probably not, but it’s an excellent start,” she adds.

The retina prototype was crafted using human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), hinting at future genetic engineering possibilities for retinal cell transplantation. This could halt or reverse blindness progression in patients with retinal injuries.

Progenitor Cells and Technique Used

The Johns Hopkins team reprogrammed adult cells back to their most primitive state, allowing them to develop into almost any human body cell type under precise conditions. Specifically, they transformed these cells into retinal progenitor cells, essential for forming the light-sensitive retina tissue at the eye’s back.

The simple technique promoted the correct growth of retinal cells and tissues, mirroring a human fetus’s retinal development timeline. Notably, the photoreceptors matured sufficiently to form outer segments crucial for their function.

The lab-manufactured retinas recreated the human retina’s three-dimensional architecture. “Generating a 3D cellular structure was necessary to replicate the retina’s functional features,” Canto-Soler remarks. Surprisingly, stem cells naturally assembled into a retina-like structure, indicating an intrinsic cellular directive for their development.

Miniature Retina from Stem Cells

Miniature Retina Functionality Test

When the retina tissue reached a developmental stage equivalent to 28 weeks in the womb, with sufficiently mature photoreceptors, researchers tested if these could detect light and convert it into visual signals. By applying a light ‘pulse’ to a single photoreceptor cell and observing a reaction pattern akin to that seen in humans exposed to light, the lab-grown photoreceptors responded similarly to natural retina ones.

Stem Cell Treatments: The Future of Health Recovery

Stem cell treatments now represent the forefront of regenerative medicine, offering a powerful alternative for health restoration. Starting with a medical evaluation allows for personalized patient treatments, yielding better outcomes in shorter times. With over 30 years of clinical experience and countless families regaining health through stem cell treatments, regenerative medicine stands as modern medicine’s most effective facet.

Finally, If you want to know more, visit our article on What Are Stem Cells.

We specialize in treatments with human stem cells, led by Dr. Juan Antonio Garza Quintanilla, a specialist in stem cells. With over 36 years of research and clinical experience, we have proven the effectiveness of regenerative medicine and its incredible benefits for people who decide to recover their health.

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