Researchers create model of human conjunctiva

Dutch scientists hope that the organoid model could be used to test drugs for a range of diseases that affect the conjunctiva

A lab worker wearing white gloves uses a pipette to put blue liquid into a petri dish

Researchers from the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands have developed an organoid model that mimics the function of the human conjunctiva.

Scientists used cells from a human conjunctiva and grew them into 3D structures in a dish.

The researchers, who published their study in Cell Stem Cell, found that a specific type of cell – tuft cells – become more abundant when conditions were altered to mimic allergies.

Lead researcher, Marie Bannier-Hélaouët, of the Hubrecht Institute, explained: “The organoids started to produce completely different tears: there was more mucus but there were also more antimicrobial components.”

The researchers also discovered the presence of tuft cells.

“Similar cells have been discovered in other tissues, but not in the human conjunctiva,” she said.

Bannier-Hélaouët shared that the model could be used to test drugs for diseases that affect the conjunctiva, including allergies or dry eye disease.