In most science lab settings, petri dishes are used to grow and study bacteria. With the help of advanced stem cell research, a group of researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is using a petri dish to grow a human retina.
The miniature human retina in the dish that they have grown has not only the architectural organization of the retina, but also the ability to sense light.
Researchers used cells called induced pluripotent stem cells (immature stem cells) that resemble embryonic stem cells. These cells can morph into any cell type in the body. In this particular case, they are directing them to grow into retina cells.
Induced pluripotent stem cells have been used before to create a human liver, but never any part of the eye. Amazingly, the petri dish retina began to develop and respond to light.
Thanks to stem cell research, advancements in the scientific and medical communities could have profound effects on our health and wellbeing. Now, with this discovery, it appears that this advancement in technology could have the potential to benefit those with degenerative eye diseases and retinal disorders.