Elisabeth Manville
Mar 14, 2012

Scientists create human retina structure from blood-derived stem cells

University of Wisconsin scientists have used induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells derived from human blood to develop early retina structures. The structures showed the capacity to form layers of cells, including the cells that send signals through the optic nerve to the brain, just as they would in normal human development. In the study, 16 percent of the structures developed distinct layers, creating an arrangement similar to what is found at the back of the eye. These findings suggest that more complex retinal tissues, which could eventually be used to test drugs or even repair damaged retinas, could be built from a blood sample. "We don't know how far this technology will take us, but the fact that we are able to grow a rudimentary retina structure from a patient's blood cells is encouraging, not only because it confirms our earlier work using human skin cells, but also because blood as a starting source is convenient to obtain," Dr. David Gamm, senior author of the study, said.