Scientists recently grew mini brains with their own sets of “eyes,” according to a new study.
Organoids are miniature versions of organs that scientists can grow in the lab from stem cells, or cells that can mature into any type of cell in the body. Previously, scientists have developed tiny beating hearts and tear ducts that could cry like humans do. Scientists have even grown mini brains that produce brain waves like those of preterm babies.
Now, a group of scientists has grown mini brains that have something their real counterparts do not: a set of eye-like structures called “optic cups” that give rise to the retina — the tissue that sits in the back of the eye and contains light-sensing cells, according to a statement.
In the human body, the retina sends signals to the brain via the optic nerve, allowing us to see images. “In the mammalian brain, nerve fibers of retinal ganglion cells reach out to connect with their brain targets, an aspect that has never before been shown in an in vitro system,” senior author Jay Gopalakrishnan.