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Crop Biotech Update

Japanese Scientists Engineer Retina

May 6, 2011

Japanese scientists give hope to the blind by successfully making engineered retina from mouse embryonic stem cells. According to scientists, this is "the most complex biological tissue engineered" so far. The technique used by Mototsugu Eiraku of RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, and colleagues can also be used in human cells and has been proven to be safe to transport. Aside from replacing damaged retinas, the engineered retina can also be used in identifying therapies for eye diseases.

Eiraku's team developed the mouse embryonic stem cells in a nutrient soup with proteins that pushed stem cells to become retinal cells. They also included a protein gel to support the cells in the process. "It's a bandage to the tissue. Without that, cells tend to fall apart," said Yoshiki Sasai, another author of the study.

According to Bruce Conklin, a stem-biologist at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, the results of the study may also provide hints in the assembly of other organs and tissues because the cells of the engineered retina contain instructions that enable them to self-organize.

Read more details of the story at http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110406/full/news.2011.215.html. The research article is available at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v472/n7341/full/nature09941.html#/affil-auth.