Professor Bernie Tuch, Director of the Stem Cell Network in New South Wales, Australia believes that discovery that embyonic retinas can be grown in the lab has opened up the possibility that organs could in future be grown on demand.
In a major advance toward regenerative medicine, researchers have for the first time coaxed stem cells from a mammal into becoming an embryonic eye, according to a study released on Wednesday.
Yoshiki Sasai and colleagues from RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, using new lab techniques, managed to set in motion the transformation of mouse embryonic stem cells into a so-called optic cup, the layered, three-dimensional structures that become the retina in an eye.
Significantly, the cells did the work themselves, without being pushed, pulled or “pressurised” into any particular shape, the researchers said.
The results, published in Nature, show that growing a complex human organ inside a petri dish — while still a long way off — is no longer the stuff of science fiction.
Olivier Goureau, a researcher at the Institut de la Vision in Paris has agreed that the study broke important new ground but cautioned that mice and human eyes do differ.