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For nearly two decades now, developmental biologist Yoshiki Sasai from Japan’s RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology has slaved away to perfect a recipe: the culture medium that could induce mouse embryonic stem cells to form organs with no additional ingredients. Disheartened by his incomplete success in generating brain tissue from stem cells, Sasai began a side project to grow early-stage mouse eyes, because they are “relatively simpler in structure than cortex” tissue, he said.
...Because the eye is one of the first organs to form during embryonic development, it may be easier to culture using basic ingredients, says Conklin. Therefore, Sasai’s brew may not be easily tweakable for studying the development of other organs. But what this research does show is that it is possible to stimulate early organ growth from the right mix of molecules and stem cells alone.