Tadpoles Grow Extra Eye On Command

Scientists at the University of Warwick in England have discovered a genetic switch that can cause tadpoles to produce an extra eye. This discovery is major step toward growing eyeballs or eye parts in a dish.


(Specific enzyme creates additional eye in tadpole)

Neuroscientist Nicholas Dale and University of Warwick developmental biologist Elizabeth Jones, along with colleagues, discovered the eye-switch while investigating how "ectoenzyme" molecules located on the external surface of cells contributed to the development of locomotion in the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis). The biologists injected the molecules into frog embryos that comprised just eight cells.

One of the ectoenzymes triggered wonky eye development. When added to cells that would eventually form the head, the resulting tadpole sported three eyes instead of two. An even stranger sight resulted when they injected the ectoenzyme into other developing body cells. The molecule caused an additional "ectopic" eye, leading to tadpoles with a spare peeper growing out of the side, abdomen or even along the tail.

Science fiction fans have been on the lookout for artificial eyes ever since we saw them in Ridley Scott's 1982 film Blade Runner. A genetic designer of eyes has an unpleasant meeting with replicants who interrupt his lab work.


(Genetic design of eyes from Blade Runner)

SF fans also remember the Nikon eyes from Neuromancer:

Case turned his head and looked up into Wage's face. It was a tanned and forgettable mask. The eyes were vatgrown sea-green Nikon transplants.
(Read more about Gibson's Nikon eyes)

Here's the link to the genetic eyes picture from Blade Runner you were looking for - not a serious article picture, so I put it here.

Via Scientists Envision Growing Human Eyeballs.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/25/2007)

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