Stem cell research has made it possible to grow mini-organs. The idea is that they contribute to medical research.
Düsseldorf researchers at the university hospital managed to grow a small “brain”. They, in turn, increased eye precursors that responded to light.
Growing a brain in a lab might sound like a plot of a science horror movie.
However, stem cells have allowed researchers to advance knowledge of organs as they have grown small versions of both the heart and brain.
These mini-organs are called organoids. The study was published Cell Stem Cell journal.
Stem cells are the basic building mass of man. They are cells that can grow into any part of a person.
This allows for an increase in brain mass in laboratories. At the University of Eastern Finland among other things, Alzheimer’s disease is studied using brain organoids.
In the past, researchers have developed of stem cells, among others, the brain organoid, which created complex neural networks and produced similar brain waves as in the fetal developmental stage.
However, this does not mean that brain organoids are aware or able to think. This is just a three-dimensional brain tissue mass study.
Interesting the latest brain study to look at eye development was that the brain developed eye precursors on its own after receiving “instructions” from researchers for the task in the form of vitamin A.
Vitamin A is an important ingredient in eye development. So-called optical cups were born in the cultured brain tissue.
In previous studies, these optical cups and other ocular precursor organoids have been created, but in this experiment, cups were first formed as part of the brain.
The result is still not surprising, as the eyes are in many ways a protruding part of the brain. Our visual organs also develop from brain mass for a child growing normally in the womb.
Brain organoids The “eyes” developed at roughly the same rate as in the fetus.
The first signs of visual organs were observed when the organoid brain was 30 days old. Optical cups were able to detect light as early as 50 days.
Several different ocular cells as well as a developing cornea were observed in the optical cups.
The retina developing in the cup, the sensory part of the eye, had been proven to have made contact with the brain. This was a significant achievement, as before that, researchers have not observed a connection from the retina.
Read more: Breakthrough: researchers restored vision in blind mice by reprogramming eye cells
Düsseldorf the researchers created 16 batches of brain organoids, a total of 314. Of these, 72 percent successfully began creating optical cups.
“These organoids help us study the interplay of brain and eyes during fetal development,” research leader Jay Gopalakrishnan comment on the discovery in the bulletin.
The purpose of the researchers is to use the information obtained from organoids to study congenital eye lesions and to develop personalized treatments for patients.
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