According to experts in this field, the retina will probably be the first organ that can be reproduced successfully in a laboratory using embryonic stem cells. To support this hypothesis, scientists from the University of Kobe, in Japan, got more than a year ago to generate, in vitro, optical cups -which are the embryonic structures from which the retina develops-, using embryonic stem cells obtained from mice. Now, this group of researchers, led by Yoshiri Sasai, has repeated the procedure, but this time using human cells.
The specialists indicate that it is the first time that a reproduction of the tissues of the retina is obtained so similar to the original one
Sasai's team has obtained an almost perfect optical cup model, in which the proportion of cells is very similar to that found in the eye of humans. When the experiment was performed with mouse cells, the structure obtained was smaller, but when culturing human cells the result has been significantly improved. The specialists point out that it is the first time that a reproduction of the tissues of the retina is obtained so similar to the original one.
Although new studies are necessary, the success of the experiment allows the experts to be optimistic about the possibilities of using stem cells in the clinical field in the near future, to treat degenerative diseases of the retina such as retinitis pigmentosa, caused by a progressive deterioration of the photoreceptors.
Sasai has explained that the new tissue could also be used to develop models of diseases in which to study the pathogenesis and investigate with new treatments.