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Could be used to help scientists learn how to treat blindness, as well as diseases that can hinder eyesight

Researchers from the RIKEN Centre for Developmental Biology have become the first to grow a complex organ using embryonic stem cells from mice.

Yoshiki Sasai, study leader from the RIKEN Centre for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, and a team of researchers, have used embryonic stem cells from mice to create a rudimentary eye, which could eventually allow scientists to treat blindness and other eye-related problems. 

Other researchers in the past have participated in similar research, but were not able to create a complex organ such as the eye from a group of cells. For instance, Professor Robin Ali, a molecular geneticist at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology in London, successfully transplanted light-sensitive cells from newborn mice to the retinas of adult mice. Ali is still unsure as to whether the vision of the adult mice has improved. 

Now, Sasai has grown an eye by using an optic cup, which is a structure that holds light-sensitive cells and neurons required to see properly. The optic cup is responsible for forming the retina. The team then cultured a floating cluster of embryonic stem cells, and the cells required to make the eye took shape on their own. The result was a 2mm diameter eye, which is the size of an eye of an infant mouse. 

Sasai hopes this research can be used to help scientists learn how to treat blindness, as well as diseases that can hinder eyesight. Currently, there are 3,500 people with a condition called retinitis pigmentosa, which causes degeneration of the retina. 

In addition, Sasai would also like to see "banks" of healthy retina cells created so that they can be transplanted into patients when needed. 

"We hope such transplantation may recover vision, at least to some partial extent, in patients who lost their eyesight," said Sasai.

This study was published in Nature.

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Eye Replacement
By psenechal on 4/7/2011 12:55:12 PM , Rating: 3
My daughter had retinoblastoma as an infant and lost her complete right eye to the cancer. She currently wears a prosthesis for looks. Even if they can't actually create one to help people like her see again out of that eye, it could do wonders for making her missing eye appear completely normal. She's nearly 13 now and is cancer free, but VERY self conscious about the way she looks.

I really hope this technology goes somewhere.

RE: Eye Replacement
By Communism on 4/7/2011 3:42:31 PM , Rating: 2
Unless you have millions to spend on whatever experimental surgery they will come up with this, then try not to get your hopes up too much.

Its all about the money.

The reason why so many people die from easily treatable diseases in this country.

RE: Eye Replacement
By bobcpg on 4/7/2011 4:52:16 PM , Rating: 2
Its a catch 22. Many of those "treatable" diseases are treatable because of money.

Can you suggest a better option?

RE: Eye Replacement
By FITCamaro on 4/8/2011 9:30:07 AM , Rating: 2
You can't look at his name and tell what he's gonna say?

RE: Eye Replacement
By bill4 on 4/8/2011 9:40:57 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, far more people die from easily treatable disease in communist countries and more socialist ones than america.

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