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Scientists Grew Tiny Tear Glands in a Dish–Then Made Them Cry

Organoids made of tear-producing cells offer chances to study, and possibly treat, eye disorders.

NATURE

At first, it took a long time — up to a day — to make the cells cry. But, with experience and a little prodding, the researchers eventually made them weep in only half an hour.

The tearful cultures, reported in Cell Stem Cell on 16 March, are the first tear-gland ‘organoids’ — three-dimensional assemblages of cells that are designed to resemble miniature versions of organs. Organoids of the glands that produce tears could be used to study and eventually treat disorders that cause dry eyes, including an autoimmune condition called Sjögren’s syndrome.

“It’s very promising,” says ocular pathologist Geeta Vemuganti at the University of Hyderabad in India.

READ MORE AT NATURE

PHOTO CREDIT: NIH – Retina in a dish.

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