By Abrigul Lutfalieva

Johns Hopkins University researchers created a three-dimensional complement of human retinal tissue in the laboratory, which includes functioning photoreceptor cells capable of responding to light, the first step in the process of converting it into visual images.

The study leader M. Valeria Canto-Soler, Ph.D., an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine mentioned that: “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.”

Vision process depends on many different types of cells working in concert, in this case to turn light into something that can be recognized by the brain as an image.

The achievement emerged from experiments with human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) and could, eventually, enable genetically engineered retinal cell transplants that halt or even reverse a patient’s march toward blindness, the researchers pointed out.
According to the investigator: “We report that hiPSC can, in a highly autonomous manner, recapitulate spatiotemporally each of the main steps of retinal development observed in vivo and form three-dimensional retinal cups that contain all major retinal cell types arranged in their proper layers”.

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