Exploring color blindness through human retinas grown in lab

eyes

paper published October 11 in Science uses a retina grown outside the body to show how cones develop into the eyes’ color sensors.

Robert Johnston, a developmental biologist at Johns Hopkins University, and his colleagues wanted to understand how, exactly, developing cells in the human eye decide to become blue, green or red.

Johnston’s team decided to use human stem cells to grow mini retinas, or retinal organoids, in the lab. They then let these miniature organs mature in a dish for nine months to a year “We were growing for them for basically the time that it takes to make a baby,” he says.

At the end of maturation the mini retinas looked remarkably like real human ones.

Related article:  'Time to finish the job': One wild polio strain stands in the way of eradication of the disease

According to Johnston, this research could help develop future therapies for eye disorders such as color blindness or macular degeneration, age-related damage to the retina that can result in vision loss. Organoids could not only provide a platform to study those conditions in more detail, but now the fact scientists can control the types of photoreceptors that grow in laboratory retinas means it might be possible to one day “transplant these things directly [into patients] or preprogram stem cells and let them grow up to be the particular cells that we want.”

Read full, original post: Lab-Grown Human Retinas Illuminate How Eyes Develop Color Vision

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