The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, is seeking in vitro, stem-cell derived 3-D human retina organoids. The goal of the challenge is to generate concrete prototypes of 3-D systems that model the cellular organization and function of the human retina.
Phase III deadline: June 1, 2022 at 2:00 pm ET
Evaluation criteria are the same for both phases; at each deadline, teams can submit a solution that includes data supporting the scientific evaluation criteria they have accomplished to date. Full description, rules, and details of this prize competition are defined on NEI’s 3-D ROC page.
NEI is seeking innovative solutions that achieve significant advances over currently available retina organoids. Solutions must show publication-quality data demonstrating:
- A 3-D human retina organoid system that mimics the physiological and morphological features of the in vivo biology, consists of the major retina cell types (rod and cone photoreceptors, horizontal, bipolar, amacrine, and ganglion cells and Muller glia) with appropriate lamination and synaptic organization, and represents their biological functions and interplay. Components (neurons, retinal pigment epithelium [RPE], glia) may be produced separately or dissociated and recombined (1) if protocol is driven by a valuable biological question and (2) if in the process of re-assembly, specific functions/roles of cell types are delineated. Three-dimensional assembly may be achieved using various approaches, for example through self-organization that recapitulates natural development (“true organoid”) or through bioengineering with scaffolds, bioprinting, and/or microfluidic apparatuses.
- Retina organoids that are generated entirely from human cells (e.g. derived from iPSCs, hESCs, multipotent cells, or adult cells subjected to a combination of transdifferentiation/reprogramming methods).
- Modeling and treating retinal disease, or testing and developing drug (i.e., high content screening) therapies.
- Find detailed evaluation criteria here under “Evaluation Criteria & Point Allocation”
Explants are not of interest for this Challenge. Tissue-on-a-chip systems that use cells grown in 2-D co-culture and do not fully represent the structure, morphology, and function of the human retina are also not of interest. However, creative approaches that incorporate use of microfluidics or perfusion to enhance culture or extend duration of survival for 3-D organoid systems are acceptable.
Reviewers will be asked to use the following criteria when evaluating whether (in the form of results, graphs, images, etc.) a prototype 3-D human retina organoid meets evaluation criteria:
- Significant advances over currently available protocols in areas such as duration of culture, yield, and maturity/differentiation of all cell types in appropriate numbers and ratio.
- Potential impact on understanding the biology of the retina.