Disembodied human tear glands, grown in petri dishes in a laboratory in the Netherlands, have the ability to cry — and the scientists who created them have already grafted them into the eyes of living mice.

The series of experiments, detailed in a new study published online March 16 in the journal Cell Stem Cell, could represent a major step forward in the science of treating dry eye — a condition that impacts about 5% of adults worldwide and can lead to blindness in severe cases.