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  • Ryan Wittler

Scientists Grew Rudimentary Eyes on a Blob of Stem Cells

Elke Gabriel

In a dramatic first (and a “why even do it?” moment), a team of scientists have grown a pair of “optic cups” on a brain organoid.

What the f**k did that sentence say?

An organoid is a mini version of an organ scientists create in labs from stem cells (cells that can mature into any type of cell in the body), allowing scientists to “grow” and study things like tiny beating hearts and tear ducts that actually cry.


“Optic cups” are what scientists call the eye-like structures (the black blobs seen above) that give rise to the retina, the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye that allows us to see. They’ve previously been grown in labs on their own, however, this is the first time they’ve been grown from a brain organoid.

How’d they do it?

The scientists adapted a technique they previously developed to turn the stem cells into neural tissue and create the mini brains with eyes. The researchers “grew” (still feels weird to type it) 314 mini brains, and 72% eventually formed optic cups that responded to light.

The team says the research can be used to study human brain development, particularly, brain-eye interactions during embryo development and retinal disorders.

Pretty sure Victor Frankenstein was also just “studying” stuff, but whatever.

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