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2021 in review: When a brain blob in a dish grew a pair of ‘eyes’

2021 in review: When a brain blob in a dish grew a pair of ‘eyes’

Incredible advances in growing living tissue in the lab took another amazing turn in August when a blob of brain cells grew eye-like structures

Technology



15 December 2021

Elke Gabriel

There was a leap forward in understanding brain development in August, when lumps of neural tissue in a dish were coaxed into sprouting rudimentary eyes.

The structures, developed from stem cells, are called optic cups and responded to light. They formed similar tissues to those in real eyes – including a lens and retina – and developed nerves that sent signals to the rest of the neural blob (Cell Stem Cell, doi.org/grx8).

The work may one day lead to new treatments for blindness. But the team involved, at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf in Germany, first needs to manage to keep the “eyes” alive long-term.

2021 in review

This was a year of tackling great challenges, from the covid-19 pandemic to climate change. But 2021 was also rich in scientific discoveries and major advances.

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