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Japanese Scientists Re-Create Human Eye
The human eye, alongside the brain, is arguably one of the most complex organs and striking examples of the marvel in the creating of the human body. Incredibly, scientists in Japan claim to have created a basic recreation of the eye under laboratory conditions.
The medical marvel occurred under the guidance of Yoshiki Sasai of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (cdb.riken.jp/en).
What was Created?
An optic cup containing all the components seen in the evolved human eye, including photoreceptors for helping create the colour spectrum images we experience every day. This was made possible using precursor retinal cells which spontaneously changed into tissue cells, which in turn created early signs of a visible eye shaped bulge known as a vesicle.
This basic configuration then doubled back to create what is known as the optic cup, with the end result seeing many of the eyes’ known components including retinal cells and the required neurons which we use to interpret the visual light information gained from photoreceptors.
Basic stem cell research has been conducted throughout the world when performing research to help learn more about the inner workings of the eye, but it appears Sasai’s laboratory testing has taking the research a significant step further, due to the full 3D aesthetic and tissue based structure resembling the look of the actual human eye.
This is a particularly exciting landmark in terms of eye based research and the promise of developing treatments for a variety of eye based conditions. It is the first time, since Sasai himself oversaw research of mouse embryonic stem cells to create a similar 3D eye structure, that human cells have been used to mimic an eye closely resembling the working of our own.
University College London had recently proved that stem-cell based photoreceptors could aid ailing vision in mice, but the research in Japan has led many to believe that the same may now be possible for humans with poor sight, due to the transition to cone-shaped receptors found more commonly in humans, rather than the basic rod receptors which only provide images of poor clarity.
The next step in the research is to transfer retinal sheets from the optic cups to monkeys, which will likely provide a greater insight into whether human based experiments of the same nature are possible.
The unique and natural method used in Sasai’s development of human eye structure provides an exciting platform for future research into sight improvement, with the creation of tissue potentially allowing for direct input into the human eye via pioneering procedures, with frozen stocks of various parts of the eye possibly curing many common conditions which affects millions across the world today.
Jamie blogs about eye health and science for Direct Sight, prescription glasses retailers online.