Epithelial cells grown in a petri dish
Monday, February 25 2013 | 00 h 00 min | News
Discoveries by scientists at Monash University, in Australia, have brought us closer to a treatment for congenital eye conditions caused by damage to the lens.
Associate Professor Tiziano Berberi and Dr. Isabella Mengarelli are working to grow parts of the human eye in the lab. They took an important step when they derived and purified lens epithelium. The purity of the cells paves the way for future applications in regenerative medicine.
The researchers didn’t stop there. They caused these epithelial cells to differentiate further into lens cells, providing a platform to test new drugs on human tissue in the lab.
“The lens has, to some extent, the ability to heal well following surgical intervention,” explains Professor Barberi. “However, with congenital cataracts, the fault is wired into the DNA, so the lens will re-grow with the original impairment.”
They still have their work cut out for them. “The lens cells that we created in the petri dish are organized differently to those in a human eye, admits the professor. The next challenge is mimicking nature more perfectly.”