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Scientists Spot Eye Development 'Switch'

Breakthrough might lead to lab-grown eyes, they say

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 24 (HealthDay News) -- British scientists say they've found a cellular signal that switches on eye development.

They said the discovery will prove valuable to scientists examining stem cells connected to eye formation.

The findings of the study, published in the Oct. 25 issue of the journal Nature, could be the start of a new line of research that eventually enables researchers to create eyes in laboratory dishes.

In experiments with frogs, the University of Warwick team found that a short burst of an energy and signaling molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), followed by accumulation of another molecule called adenosine diphosphate (ADP), is an important signal for initiating expression of Eye Field Transcription Factors, genes that initiate and direct eye development.

While this finding was made in frogs, this mechanism for triggering eye development likely applies across a wide range of species, the researchers said.

More information

Here's more about eye development in vertebrates.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Warwick, news release, Oct. 24, 2007

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