22 November 2022

Organoids with Usher syndrome

British scientists have grown "eyes in a test tube"

Sergey Vasiliev, Naked Science

Scientists from University College London managed to obtain eye organoids from donor skin cells. Such models of a full-fledged organ "in vitro" will allow to investigate severe visual impairment. The article by Professor Jane Sowden and her colleagues was published in the journal Stem Cell Reports (Leong et al., Molecular pathology of Usher 1B patient-derived retinal organoids at single cell resolution).

In recent years, doctors have learned to obtain organoids of a variety of tissues and organs, including even the brain and related eye glasses. Now the retina has been added to this list. To create it, skin cells turned into induced pluripotent cells were used. Such stem cells can develop into any mature and specialized cells. In the described case, scientists obtained photosensitive rods from them and managed to organize structures similar to the retina of the eye.


The authors plan to use these organoids to study Usher syndrome, a severe genetic disease that causes deafness and retinal degeneration, eventually leading to deafness. Scientists have already obtained retinal models from both healthy donors and patients with this syndrome, carrying the corresponding "wrong" DNA. Now the researchers are going to compare the expression of their genes in order to better understand how vision degradation occurs in patients.

Already the first experiments have shown that Muller cells are involved in the development of this process, which support the work of the retina. In people with Usher syndrome, these cells are characterized by an abnormal reaction to stress and a violation of the mechanisms of protein utilization.

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