The Stem Cell Medicine Group showed in a publication out today in Stem Cell Reports that both brain and retina can be grown in the dish from stem cells which could improve the study of neurological diseases of the eye and brain.
Led by Dr Anai Gonzalez Cordero who found that when these organoids are grown together, optic nerve-like structures form.
The group is a leader in stem cell medicine. They take cells from a patient’s blood or skin and direct them to grow into a specific form of tissue or mini organs known as organoids. One of their areas of specialty is working to create scientific models of the eye, most specifically the retina.
Dr Gonzalez Cordero said that as her team were growing retinas in a dish, they noticed cells similar to those found in the brain were growing nearby, as they have the same “developmental origins’’.
“The eye field grows in the same region as the brain in very early development,’’ she said. “So we were able to replicate this in the dish.
“What we were able to create was a very simple and robust culture that generated the two type of organoids, when isolated to grown further in the dish the optic nerve-like structures connecting the eye and the brain formed.’’
The Stem Cell Medicine Group then worked with CMRI’s Synapse Proteomics Group and Computational Systems Biology Group to verify that they had produced brain organoids from retinal cultures. They showed “spontaneous functional network activity’’ and organoid maturation.
“It is a great start,’’ Dr Gonzalez Cordero said. “This work is all about improving how we study some neurological diseases so it’s very exciting. The next step is to optimise the process.
“It is also a great example of the collaborative approach to research that we have at CMRI.’’
Authors on this publication included Milan Fernando, Scott Lee, Jesse Wark, Di Xiao, Hani Kim, Grady Smith, Ted Wong, Erdahl Teber, Robin Ali, Pengyi Yang, Mark Graham, and Anai Gonzalez Cordero.
The research was made possible by funding from Luminesce Alliance https://www.luminesce.org.au/ – a not-for-profit cooperative joint venture between Sydney Children's Hospitals Network, Children’s Medical Research Institute, and Children’s Cancer Institute, University of New South Wales, and the University of Sydney.