Miniature-Sized Brains Grown in a Lab Could Help Treat Neurological Diseases
03:29 GMT 22.10.2021 (Updated: 13:32 GMT 06.08.2022)
The organoids — at times called “mini brains,” to the chagrin of some scientists — are not a fully accurate representation of normal developmental processes, according to the study. Cerebral organoids do, however, represent a “promising tool for understanding human brain physiology and disease processes.”
A group of scientists from the University of Cambridge are growing miniature models of human brains in the lab in order to learn how to treat fatal neurodegenerative conditions. Previous efforts had grown stem cells into brainlike collections of neurons, but none demonstrated brain activity mimicking the real thing until now.
In results published Thursday, the team reported a breakthrough that could help scientists study a range of neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as epilepsy, stroke and schizophrenia.
Developed from a culture of skin cells from dementia and neurone patients, the organoids are then reverted to stem cells and reprogrammed to grow into the elements of a particular tissue or organ. Those cells are then modeled to mimic certain diseases or genetic disorders.
Scientists believe that understanding exactly how the human brain develops and functions is the greatest challenge of modern biology. Most of what we have learned about the organ since the birth of neuroscience more than 100 years ago derives from experiments done on animals — frequently mice or rats.
“The brain is probably our most complex organ,” study co-author András Lakatos, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, reportedly told The Daily Beast. “It has the widest range of different types of cells that have yet to be fully explored.”.