Lab-grown brains produce signals which mimic those seen in preterm babies

CNET | 8/29/2019 | Jackson Ryan
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A cross-section of the lab grown mini-brains, with each color representing a different type of brain cell.

Scientists have successfully grown mini brains that, for the first time, produce brain waves resembling those seen in embryos and preterm infants. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) created the pea-sized "brains" by growing up stem cells in a petri dish and testing their activity and gene expression over 10 months. They hope the mini brains will enable them to study early brain development.

Study - Journal - Cell - Stem - Cell

The study, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell on Thursday, is by the same research group that previously showed they were able to grow Neanderthal mini brains in the lab. This time around they've stuck to Homo sapiens, coaxing human stem cells into becoming brain cells by placing them in a petri dish that simulates the environment of early brain development. The 3D mini brains, known as "organoids," then mature and create cellular networks of connected cells -- an important component of real brains that allows electrical signals to zip around.

"We are one step closer to have a model that can actually generate these early stages of a sophisticated neural network," said Alysson Muotri, a molecular biologist at UCSD and author on the new study, in a press release. Muotri's team have been working with brain organoids for a number of years, slowly working towards building a brain that will act as a model for future study. Currently, their model is about a million times smaller than an adult human brain.

Brain - Organoids - Things - Neurodevelopment - Disease

"You can use brain organoids for several things, including understand normal human neurodevelopment, disease modeling, brain evolution, drug screening, and even to inform artificial intelligence," Muotri said.

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(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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