Scientists grow 'mini human brains' from stem cells

Scientists said Wednesday they had used stem cells to grow primitive human brain tissue for use in studying disorders and early development of this most complex of organs.

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Madeline A. Lancaster/Institute of Molecular Biotechnolgoy of the Austrian Academy of Sciences

Scientists grow 'mini human brains' from stem cells

LONDON: Scientists said Wednesday they had used stem cells to grow primitive human brain tissue for use in studying disorders and early development of this most complex of organs.

They used the cells to grow what they dubbed "cerebral organoids" – pea-sized blobs of 3D brain tissue in a Petri dish, with characteristics of early embryonic brain tissue.

The feat may reduce scientists' reliance on the mouse brain, which is a poor model for research into human diseases and treatment, the team wrote in the journal Nature.

"Development of the human brain is very different from development, for example, of the mouse brain," study coordinator Juergen Knoblich of the Austrian Academy of Sciences told a telephone press conference.

The technology should help biologists study "human-specific" features of human brain development and disease, he said.

It was also hoped the method would allow researchers to "test drugs directly in a human setting and thereby avoid animal experiments and get more informed results that are more easily transferrable to human patients," said Knoblich.

Stem cell researchers have made progress to create 3D tissue of other human organs, including the heart and liver, but the brain has remained elusive. AFP

Related search: mini human brains, stem cells, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Juergen Knoblich

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