New lab technique turns human stem cells into brain-like tissue

Science

A new study from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has shown that it is possible to grow “self-organizing mini spheres that now contain all the major cell types found in the human cerebral cortex” in laboratory dishes. This brand new laboratory technique effectively turns human stem cells into brain-like tissue.

Paul Tesar, associate professor of genetics and genome sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, said: "We have taken the organoid system and added the third major cell type in the central nervous system -- oligodendrocytes -- and now have a more accurate representation of cellular interactions that occur during human brain development. This is a powerful platform to understand human development and neurological disease. Using stem cell technology we can generate nearly unlimited quantities of human brain-like tissue in the lab. Our method creates a 'mini-cortex,' containing neurons, astrocytes, and now oligodendrocytes producing myelin. This is a major step toward unlocking stages of human brain development that previously were inaccessible. Our method enables generation of human brain tissue in the laboratory from any patient. More broadly, it can accurately recapitulate how the human nervous system is built and identify what goes wrong in certain neurological conditions."

“New lab technique turns human stem cells into brain-like tissue.“

Mayur Madhavan, co-first author of the study, said: "These organoids provide a way to predict the safety and efficacy of new myelin therapeutics on human brain-like tissue in the laboratory prior to clinical testing in humans."

Zachary Nevin, co-first author of the study, said: "Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease has been a complicated disorder to study due to the many different mutations that can cause it and the inaccessibility of patient brain tissue, but these new organoids allow us to directly study brain-like tissue from many patients simultaneously and test potential therapies."

See all the latest jobs in Science
Return to news