Scientists create artificial human retinas

Scientists have succeeded in growing accurate replicas of human retinas that can be used to pinpoint the specific types of cells affected by genetic eye diseases. This achievement will accelerate progress in developing individual therapies. The research was reported in Cell by scientists from the University of Basel, the Institute for Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel, and the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.

The research team led by Botond Roska, Professor at the University of Basel and Director of the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel (IOB), has been working the past six years towards creating functional human retinas in a dish. The artificial tissue they now succeeded to grow is referred to as an organoid, because it has features of the human organ – including the disease parameters of individual patients. To cultivate the mini-organs, the researchers only needed skin or blood samples from the patients.

New method to compare organoids and retinas

“Our organoids are special because, like the human retina, they have a layered structure and react in the same way to light,” explains Cameron Cowan, a senior researcher in the IOB Human Retinal Circuit Group and a first author of the paper. A comparison of organoids with retinas from multi-organ donors confirmed the strong similarities. “We show that after 38 weeks in culture, the duration of a typical human pregnancy, our organoids contain many of the same cell types as an adult human retina,” says Professor Botond Roska. These comparisons were made possible by the high quality of the donated retinal tissue. “For the first time, we were able to maintain human retinas in a functional, light-sensitive state after death.”

Personalized treatments

Moreover, the researchers showed the high value of organoids for therapy development by demonstrating that retinal diseases map to the same sorts of cells in the organoids and real retinas. “We can grow retinal organoids from a patient’s blood or skin samples and use those to develop treatments in the laboratory that are tailored to that individual patient,” says Magdalena Renner, Head of the IOB Human Organoid Platform and also a first author of the paper. The research successes will accelerate the development of new therapies for blinding retinal diseases.

Source: University of Basel

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Next Post

York recognised as a University of Sanctuary

Sat Oct 3 , 2020
The University of York has achieved a ‘University of Sanctuary’ award in recognition of its sector-leading efforts to expand access for refugee and asylum seekers. The award, led by the charity City of Sanctuary, recognises the efforts of the University’s students and staff to welcome forced migrants into the community […]

European Higher Education Organization is a public organization carrying out academic, educational and information activities on higher education in Europe.

The EHEO general plan stresses that:

  • Higher education systems require adequate funding and, as an investment in economic growth, public spending in higher education should be protected.
  • The challenges faced by higher education require more flexible governance and funding systems, which balance greater autonomy for education institutions with accountability to stakeholders.

Thus, EHEO plans:

  • improve academic and scientific interaction of universities;
  • protect the interests of universities;
  • interact more closely with public authorities of European countries;
  • popularize European higher education in the world;
  • develop academic mobility;
  • seek funding for European universities.