Stem Cells from Patients Make 'Early Retina in a Dish'

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine | 2011-06-15

Madison, Wisconsin - Soon, some treatments for blinding eye diseases might be developed and tested using retina-like tissues produced from the patient's own skin, thanks to a series of discoveries reported by a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison stem cell researchers.

The team, led by stem cell scientist and ophthalmologist Dr. David Gamm of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and former UW scientist Dr. Jason Meyer, used human embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to generate three-dimensional structures that are similar to those present at the earliest stages of retinal development.

The Gamm laboratory, based at UW-Madison's Waisman Center, isolated these early retinal structures from other cell groups and grew them in batches in the laboratory, where they produced major retinal cell types, including photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE).

Importantly, cells from these structures matured and responded appropriately to signals involved in normal retinal function, making them potentially valuable not only for studying how the human retina develops, but also how to keep it working in the face of disease.



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