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Mini brains develop optic cups

Researchers have described the formation of light sensitive structures within lab-grown miniature brains

brain
Pixabay/Raman Oza
Scientists have reported on the development of optic cups within brain organoids.

The research, which is described in Cell Stem Cell, found that stem cells could be used to generate organoids containing primitive sensory structures.

brain organoid with optic cups
Elke Gabriel
A brain organoid with optic cups.
The scientists developed 314 brain organoids, with 72% of the miniature brains forming optic cups.

The optic cups included primitive corneal epithelial and lens-like cells, retinal pigment epithelia, retinal progenitor cells, axon-like projections, and electrically active neuronal networks.

Senior study author, Jay Gopalakrishnan, of University Hospital Düsseldorf, highlighted the “remarkable ability” of brain organoids to develop primitive light sensitive structures.

“These organoids can help to study brain-eye interactions during embryo development, model congenital retinal disorders, and generate patient-specific retinal cell types for personalised drug testing and transplantation therapies,” he said.

As part of future research, the scientists plan on keeping the optic cups viable for longer time periods to enable the investigation of mechanisms that cause retinal disorders.