Mini human brains grown from stem cells in Austrian lab hold much promise
LONDON — Scientists have grown the first mini human brains in a laboratory and say their success could lead to new levels of understanding about the way brains develop and what goes wrong in disorders like schizophrenia and autism.
Researchers based in Austria started with human stem cells and created a culture in the lab that allowed them to grow into so-called cerebral organoids — or mini brains — that consisted of distinct brain regions.
It is the first time that scientists have managed to replicate the development of brain tissue in three dimensions.
Using the organoids, the scientists were able to produce a biological model of how a rare brain condition called microcephaly develops — suggesting the same technique could be used to model disorders like autism or schizophrenia that affect millions of people around the world.
“This study offers the promise of a major new tool for understanding the causes of major developmental disorders of the brain ... as well as testing possible treatments,” said Paul Matthews, a professor of clinical neuroscience at Imperial College London, who was not involved in the research but was impressed with it.
Zameel Cader, a consultant neurologist at Britain's John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, described the work as “fascinating and exciting.” He said it extended the possibility of stem cell technologies for understanding brain development and disease mechanisms — and for discovering new drugs.
Although it starts as relatively simple tissue, the human brain swiftly develops into the most complex known natural structure, and scientists are largely in the dark about how that happens.
This makes it extremely difficult for researchers to gain an understanding of what might be going wrong in — and therefore how to treat — many common disorders of the brain such as depression, schizophrenia and autism.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- U.S., Turkey plan for ‘safe zone’ free of ISIS in northern Syria
- Gunbattle kills 21 at Afghan wedding party
- Saudis’ deadly airstrikes resume in Yemen
- Chinese woman crushed to death in escalator
- Obama knocks Huckabee, Trump for slide in Republican rhetoric
- Turkey to stick with air offensive in ISIS battle
- On final day in Kenya, Obama makes it personal in call for reform
- Nigerian leader: U.S. law based on alleged human rights violations ‘aids’ Boko Haram
- Turkey couples ISIS bombing runs with striking Kurdish targets
- Saudi-led airstrikes kill 120 in Yemen