Science & Tech

Lab grows human brain cells with rudimentary ‘eyes’ that can see light

Another day, another impressive and groundbreaking scientific discovery.

German scientists created small, lab-grown brain cell clusters to develop fundamental eye structures that can detect light and communicate with the brain.

The sphere-shaped masses, categorized as “brain organoids,” are generated in a petri dish from stem cells , which can recreate the ordinary function of any cell in the body.

The scientists at the Heinrich-Heine-University’s Institute for Human Genetics in Düsseldorf, Germany used stem cells to grow the organoids out of the “optic cups,” which is an early stage when eyes are developing in a fetus at around five weeks old.

The tiny organoids are roughly 0.1 inches wide (2.54 millimeters), and the cups they are in are also minute, measuring at 0.0008 inches (0.02 millimeters) each.

However, they grow in pairs and contain some characteristics of genuine eyes, such as corneas, lenses, and primitive retinas, allowing them to ‘see’ light.

They also reportedly develop neurons which are nerve cells that allow for communication with the central brain.

In research published by the Cell Stem Cell journal , the scientists put light on the organoids in the cup. When they did, they discovered electrical signals that traveled along their neural pathways, which indicated that some "visual information is being transmitted."

"In the mammalian brain, nerve fibers of retinal ganglion cells reach out to connect with their brain targets, an aspect that has never before been shown in an in vitro system," said Jay Gopalakrishnan the senior study writer of University Hospital Düsseldorf.

Essentially, this research could further perpetuate the creation of lab-grown retinas for people who experience vision problems in the future.

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