Stem cells: Expert explains purpose and ‘regenerative medicine’
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The incredible, yet bizarre, breakthrough was made on tiny, human-derived brain organdies – miniature versions of organs that can be grown in a lab from stem cells. Previously, scientists have developed tiny beating hearts and tear ducts that could cry like humans. But now researchers at the University Hospital Düsseldorf have taken an even creepier step forward by growing “mini brains” with a set of eye-like structures called “optic cups”.
In the human body, the retina sends signals to the brain via the optic nerve, allowing us to see images – and scientists appear to have replicated this.
Senior author Professor Jay Gopalakrishnan said: “In the mammalian brain, nerve fibres 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.”
Once the stem cells had developed into mini brains, the organoids formed these optic cups.
The incredible development appeared as early as 30 days and matured within 50 days, a timeframe similar to how the retina develops in a human embryo, according to the statement.
A bizarre mini brain was created (Image: University Hospital Düsseldorf)
In the human body, the retina sends signals to the brain (Image: GETTY)
In total, the researchers created 314 mini brains, and 72 percent of them formed optic cups.
The organoids contained different types of retinal cells that formed active neuron networks that “responded to light”.
Prof Gopalakrishnan added: “Our work highlights the remarkable ability of brain organoids to generate primitive sensory structures that are light sensitive and harbour cell types similar to those found in the body.”
The work is being carried out in order to study human brain development and related diseases.
Researchers hope to one day use the organoids to study brain-eye interaction during embryo development.
The optic cups appeared as early as 30 days (Image: University Hospital Düsseldorf)
They could also be used to study retinal disorders and possibly create personalised retinal cell types for therapies.
The researchers wrote: “Optic vesicle-containing brain organoids displaying highly specialised neuronal cell types can be developed, paving the way to generate personalised organoids and retinal pigment epithelial sheets for transplantation.
“We believe that [these] are next-generation organoids helping to model retinopathies that emerge from early neurodevelopmental disorders.”
It comes after a miracle baby shark was born in Sardinia, Italy.
According to aquarium staff, there has not been a male in the tank for more than a decade.
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Mini brains were grown in a lab from stem cells (Image: University Hospital Düsseldorf)
It could be used to make breakthroughs in the future (Image: GETTY)
Scientists have been left astounded, believing it could be down to a form of asexual reproduction.
If confirmed it would be the first case of parthenogenesis reproduction ever recorded in sharks.
This is a form of asexual reproduction where a female egg can develop into an embryo without being fertilised by a sperm.
Dubbed “Ispera,” experts believe it is the first case of parthenogenesis in sharks, which would be a major development for marine science.
DNA samples have been sent from two female sharks in the tank to a specialised laboratory to confirm their suspicions.