Japanese scientists have managed to grow a mouse's eye from stem cells. They
believe they are getting closer to growing a human eye and hope it will lead to
treatments for human blindness. So far scientists had never created such a
complex biological structure largely because they could not develop the optic
But now scientists at the Center for Developmental Biology
in Kobe, Japan have induced embryonic mouse stem cells to spontaneously form
the optic cup in a dish. The key ingredient was a mixture of jellylike proteins
(Matrigel). The stem cells prefer to lie on this bed before turning into the
eye's various structures. Scientists are looking forward to do the same work
with human embryonic stem cells as there is a lot of developmental similarity
between the mouse and man.
The team has not yet grown an entire eyeball in a dish. But their
work so far shows that it is possible to grow specific eye structures, like
retinas, from stem cells so that they could be used in therapy. The new
research is being published today in the journal Nature.