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Mouse retinas grown in lab

Transplanted cells can function in rodents' eyes

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12:02pm, July 22, 2013

EYE CANDY  Researchers grew primitive retinas (one shown, with proteins  that collect and transmit light signals in green and red) by embedding mouse  embryonic stem cells in a gel. Immature cells from the lab-grown structures can  integrate into adult eyes. 

Retina cells can be grown from mouse stem cells in the laboratory and become working parts of a mouse’s eye, a new study indicates.

Last year, Robin Ali of University College London and colleagues demonstrated that immature retina cells from newborn mice could form rod cells – a type of light-gathering cell – that wire into the retinas of night-blind adult mice (SN: 5/19/12, p. 13). For the technology to help restore sight in people, such as those with macular degeneration, the researchers needed to come up with a ready source of immature retinal cells.

Ali and colleagues report July 21 in Nature Biotechnology that they have devised a way to coax mouse embryonic stem cells to form primitive retinas in a laboratory dish. Most researchers who have tried to grow retinas have failed. The trick, Ali’s team found, was to embed the stem cells in a gel instead of growing the cells on top of the dish. The gel

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