The technique of generating 3-dimensional optic vesicle-like structures from human pluripotent cells was first reported by Meyer et al. in the Gamm laboratory at UW-Madison concurrently with work published using mouse embryonic stem cells by the Sasai laboratory in Japan. These methods have since been independently validated and expanded upon by multiple research teams worldwide. Dr. Gamm's optic vesicle technology, to which our company has obtained exclusive license, provides a method by which to produce retinal cell lineages that display appropriate characteristics.
When stained for biologic hallmarks of retinal cells and viewed in cross-section, optic vesicles derived from human iPSCs display distinct time- and location-dependent patterns of retinal cell differentiation. The maturing optic vesicle provides structural and cell-cell cues that enable emergent development of multiple retinal cell types, including photoreceptors and retinal ganglion cells.
As retinal cells mature within the optic vesicle, photoreceptors form specialized structures call outer segments, which contain opsins. Opsins are the molecules in photoreceptors responsible for capturing light, the critical first step in visual perception.