The future of eye disease treatment


Date: 15.04.2021

Organoids made of tear-producing cells offer chances to study, and possibly treat, eye disorders. At first, it took a long time — up to a day — to make the cells cry. But, with experience and a little prodding, the researchers eventually made them weep in only half an hour.

The tearful cultures, reported in Cell Stem Cell on 16 March, are the first tear-gland ‘organoids’ — three-dimensional assemblages of cells that are designed to resemble miniature versions of organs. Organoids of the glands that produce tears could be used to study and eventually treat disorders that cause dry eyes, including an autoimmune condition called Sjögren’s syndrome.

In addition to their role in displaying emotion, tears help to lubricate and protect the eye. Dry eyes can be painful, inflamed and prone to infection.

To study tear production, developmental biologist Hans Clevers laboratory at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands developed a way to grow tear-gland cells as organoids. The group has found ways to grow a menagerie of organoids, including miniature livers, cervical cancers and snake-venom glands.

The article was prepared based on the information: Nature

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