We have a new publication out (direct link), Photoreceptor Outer Segment-like Structures in Long-Term 3D Retinas from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells authored by Karl Wahlin, Julien Maruotti, Srinivasa Sripathi, John Ball, Juan Angueyra, Catherin Kim, Rhonda Grebe, Wei Li, myself and Don Zack.
Abstract: The retinal degenerative diseases, which together constitute a leading cause of hereditary blindness worldwide, are largely untreatable. Development of reliable methods to culture complex retinal tissues from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) could offer a means to study human retinal development, provide a platform to investigate the mechanisms of retinal degeneration and screen for neuroprotective compounds, and provide the basis for cell-based therapeutic strategies. In this study, we describe an in vitro method by which hPSCs can be differentiated into 3D retinas with at least some important features reminiscent of a mature retina, including exuberant outgrowth of outer segment-like structures and synaptic ribbons, photoreceptor neurotransmitter expression, and membrane conductances and synaptic vesicle release properties consistent with possible photoreceptor synaptic function. The advanced outer segment-like structures reported here support the notion that 3D retina cups could serve as a model for studying mature photoreceptor development and allow for more robust modeling of retinal degenerative disease in vitro.