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Abstract Retina

This image actually comes out of one of the first experiments I ever did in the Marclab and has been made into a large print that sits in our kitchen.  It was an experiment designed to test how far we could push AGB as a tracer molecule and revealed new classes of amacrine cells in the retina that we have yet to really describe.  Some of the data appeared in my very first ARVO poster back in 1999, but the rest of it is waiting in slides and notes…  One only has so many hours in the day and I suspect that most scientists have many projects such as this that have interesting data in them that are sitting on the sidelines while they focus on other work that brings in the paychecks.

The remarkable thing about this *simple* goldfish retina is that it’s retina is far more sophisticated than our retinas.  More than 220 types of neurons, compared to ~70 for a human and they have a population of stem cells that comes out of hiding when they are damaged to give birth to new retinal neurons to fix things when damaged.  Humans have somehow lost this ability, or perhaps we’ve never had it and “lower” vertebrates evolved this capacity after mammals, though I suspect not as it appears to be a very old evolutionary capability.

Categories: Art of Science, Science.

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