Much of the research on human cells involves growing them in a laboratory -- in a hard, plastic Petri dish.
But that's not the way our bodies do it. “It turns out that most of what we know about the cells in our body is based on growing cells in hard plastic dishes… petri dishes,” Dr. Molly Shoichet recently told the Wall Street Daily.
“But we don’t have any hard plastic in us. And we’re 3-D. Our cells are not growing on a flat surface.”
Shoichet’s team at the University of Totonto has found a way to replicate in the laboratory the way cells actually grow in human bodies, using soft material in a 3-D environment.
They introduced polyethylene glycol to hyaluronan to create a “biomimetic hydrogel” that would allow researchers to grow laboratory cells in an environment much like the human body.
Now one of Shoichet’s collaborators, Derek van der Kooy, has discovered that we all have retinal stem cells in our bodies, and laboratory mice have shown “functional recovery of pupillary light response” following cell replacement.
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