The National Institutes of Health have launched a competition to award a federal prize of $1 million for a bidder that can successfully replicate production of fully functioning eye tissue.
“What we really want from this competition is a better way to understand human retina disease and also learn about drugs that could potentially be worked for those diseases,” said Jessica Mazerik, who holds a doctorate of philosophy in cell biology and is the competition coordinator at NIH’s National Eye Institute (NEI).
Contestants are aiming to grow a fully functioning eye retina in a specimen dish. Researchers, biotechnology companies and pharmaceutical companies could then use the end product to research eye diseases and test potential treatments.
“We think we’re right on the cusp of being able to replicate the human light sensitivity of a human retina,” said Steve Becker, a colleague of Mazerik’s at NEI, who also has a doctorate of philosophy (PhD) in cell biology.