Researchers Use Stem Cells to Grow Mini Human Brains
To begin, the researchers mixed together embryonic stem cells, ultimately derived from fetal tissue, and a smattering of cells known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), which are extracted from more refined adult tissue. The agglomeration was encased in gel which acted as a mechanical scaffold to provide some structural integrity to the soft tissue. After transfer to the spinning bioreactor (pictured below), which facilitated nutrient delivery, a continuous sheet of tissue, known as neuroepithelia formed around a fluid cavity just as in the development of the ventricles of real brains. After a few weeks, specific brain regions like the cortex, and even a retina, began to form.
The researchers were able to tailor unique cerebral organoids that can be used to investigate particular human diseases. In one set of experiments they used iPS cells from the skin of a patient with a condition known as microcephaly (a condition where the brains fails to fully grow). The resulting organoids had much reduced proliferative capacity as a result of the cells adopting mature forms far too early on, reminiscent of the condition in actual development of the disease.
(via Researchers create the first lab-grown human ‘mini brains’ | ExtremeTech)