A retina organoid which we derive from embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) serves as a building block for our in vitro model for a neuronal network.
The system will allow us to tackle three aspects of neuronal networks:
To illuminate the role of mechanics, we will use ferrofluid droplets as mechanical actuators, a technique which has been developed by us (Serwane et al., Nature Methods, 2017 https://www.nature.com/articles/nmeth.4101) and is now used to understand the role of mechanics in 3D developing tissues (Mongera et al., Nature 2018, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0479-2).
2. Electrical function
Spatiotemporal patterns of light will be used to stimulate neuronal activity within the retina tissue which we will then quantify using neuroscience tools such as calcium imaging. For this we make use of our custom-built lightsheet microscope to record volumetric calcium responses in 3D.
3. Disease modelling
Beyond basic research the system we prepare will open the door to understanding and modelling of neuronal diseases. Mechanical abnormalities are key risk factors for a variety of pathological conditions. Therefore, finding new diagnosis and treatment tools targeting tissue mechanics might pave the way to novel approaches tackling retina diseases.