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This profile was last updated on 12/8/15  and contains information from public web pages.

Dr. Yoshiki Sasai

Wrong Dr. Yoshiki Sasai?

Stem-Cell Researcher

Local Address:  Kobe , Tokyo , Japan
RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

Board Memberships and Affiliations


  • M.D.
  • MD
    Kyoto University Medical School
  • PhD course
    Kyoto University School of Medicine
  • medical degree
    Kyoto University Medical School
200 Total References
Web References
Health Library at Vista Center [cached]
Yoshiki Sasai of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CBD) in Kobe, Japan, has grown the precursor of a human eye in the lab. The structure, called an optic cup, is 550 micrometres in diameter and contains multiple layers of retinal cells including photoreceptors. The achievement has raised hopes that doctors may one day be able to repair damaged eyes in the clinic. But for researchers at the annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research in Japan where Sasai presented the findings this week, the most exciting thing is that the optic cup developed its structure without guidance from Sasai and his team. The human eye is a complex structure - but the cues to build it come from inside the growing cells. Until recently, stem-cell biologists had been able to grow embryonic stem-cells only into two-dimensional sheets. But over the past 4years, Sasai has used mouse embryonic stem cells to grow well-organized, 3D cerebral-cortex, pituitary-gland and optic-cup tissue. His latest result marks the first time that anyone has managed a similar feat using human cells. In Sasai's experiment, retinal precursor cells spontaneously formed a ball of epithelial tissue cells and then bulged outwards to form a bubble called an eye vesicle. That pliable structure then folded back on itself to form a pouch, creating the optic cup with an outer wall (the retinal epithelium) and an inner wall comprising layers of retinal cells including photoreceptors, bipolar cells and ganglion cells. "This resolves a long debate," says Sasai, over whether the development of the optic cup is driven by internal or external cues. last month, a group in London showed that a transplant of stem-cell derived photo-receptors could rescue vision in mice. But the transplant involved only rods, not cones, and would leave the recipient seeing fuzzy images. Sasai's organically layered structure offers hope that integrated photoreceptor tissue could one day be transplanted. The developmental process could also be adapted to treat a particular disease, & stocks of tissue could be created for transplant & frozen. Sasai emphasizes that the cells in the optic cup are "pure", unlike those in two-dimensional aggregates, which may still contain embryonic stem cells. This reduces concerns that transplants of such cells might develop cancerous growths or fragments of unrelated tissues. M Takahashi, has already started transferring sheets of the retina from such optic cups into mice. She plans to do the same with monkeys by the end of the year.
"This is an important milestone for ... [cached]
"This is an important milestone for a new generation of regenerative medicine," says senior study author Yoshiki Sasai of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology. "Our approach opens a new avenue to the use of human stem cell-derived complex tissues for therapy, as well as for other medical studies related to pathogenesis and drug discovery."
During development, light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye, called the retina, forms from a structure known as the optic cup. In the new study, this structure spontaneously emerged from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs)-cells derived from human embryos that are capable of developing into a variety of tissues-thanks to the cell culture methods optimized by Sasai and his team.
The hESC-derived cells formed the correct 3D shape and the two layers of the optic cup, including a layer containing a large number of light-responsive cells called photoreceptors. Because retinal degeneration primarily results from damage to these cells, the hESC-derived tissue could be ideal transplantation material.
Beyond the clinical implications, the study will likely accelerate the acquisition of knowledge in the field of developmental biology. For instance, the hESC-derived optic cup is much larger than the optic cup that Sasai and collaborators previously derived from mouse embryonic stem cells, suggesting that these cells contain innate species-specific instructions for building this eye structure. "This study opens the door to understanding human-specific aspects of eye development that researchers were not able to investigate before," Sasai says.
The burst of enthusiasm was fuelled ... [cached]
The burst of enthusiasm was fuelled by Yoshiki Sasai, a stem-cell biologist at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, who turned heads when he grew a cerebral cortex1, followed by a rudimentary optic cup2 and pituitary gland3 (see Nature488, 444–446; 2012).
Just a year after Sasai announced his layered cortex, Hans Clevers, a stem-cell researcher at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, the Netherlands, reported the creation of a mini-gut4.
Neuro2010-ENG´┐ŻbOrganizers [cached]
Yoshiki Sasai Riken Center for Developmental Biology
General Eye news | [cached]
Mototsugu Eiraku and Yoshiki Sasai, of Japanese research foundation RIKEN, and colleagues discovered that embryonic stem cells in mice can assemble to form an optic cup, which is the... Read more
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