Networking neurons thrive in 3-D human “organoid”
A patient tormented by suicidal thoughts gives his psychiatrist a few strands of his hair. She derives stem cells from them to grow budding brain tissue harboring the secrets of his unique illness in a petri dish. She uses the information to genetically engineer a personalized treatment to correct his brain circuit functioning. Just Sci-fi? Yes, but…
An evolving “disease-in-a-dish” technology, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is bringing closer the day when such a seemingly futuristic personalized medicine scenario might not seem so far-fetched. Scientists have perfected mini cultured 3-D structures that grow and function much like the outer mantle – the key working tissue, or cortex — of the brain of the person from whom they were derived. Strikingly, these “organoids” buzz with neuronal network activity. Cells talk with each other in circuits, much as they do in our brains.
Sergiu Pasca, M.D. , of Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, and colleagues, debut what they call “human cortical spheroids,” May 25, 2015 online in the journal Nature Methods.
“There’s been amazing progress in this field over the past few years,” said Thomas R. Insel, M.D., Director of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health, which provided most of the funding for the study. “The cortex spheroids grow to a state in which they express functional connectivity, allowing for modeling and understanding of mental illnesses. They do not even begin to approach the complexity of a whole human brain. But that is not exactly what we need to study disorders of brain circuitry. As we seek advances that promise enormous potential benefits to patients, we are ever mindful of the ethical issues they present.”
Prior to the new study, scientists had developed a way to study neurons differentiated from stem cells derived from patients’ skin cells — using a technology called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). They had even produced primitive organoids by coaxing neurons and support cells to organize themselves, mimicking the brain’s own architecture. But these lacked the complex circuitry required to even begin to mimic the workings of our brains.
Based on an improved, streamlined method for producing iPSCs, Pasca’s team’s cortex-like spheroids harbor healthier neurons supported by a more naturalistic network of supporting glial cells, resulting in more functional neural connections and circuitry. Like the developing brain, the neurons form layers and talk with each other via neural networks. The spheroid technology is more consistent than earlier organoids in generating the same kinds of cortex-like structures in repeated experiments.
The budding cortex also lends itself to analysis using conventional brain slice methods. So, in a sci-fi future, it might potentially reveal what circuits went awry in the developing cortex of a particular individual with a brain disorder.
“While the technology is still maturing, there is great potential for using these assays to more accurately develop, test safety and effectiveness of new treatments before they are used in individuals with a mental illness,” said David Panchision, Ph.D., NIMH program director for stem cell research.
Read more: A patient’s budding cortex — in a dish?
The Latest on: Disease-in-a-dish
via Google News
The Latest on: Disease-in-a-dish
- Parkinson’s disease in a dish: UB researchers reproduce brain oscillations that characterize the diseaseon January 5, 2020 at 4:00 pm
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Abnormal oscillations in neurons that control movement, which likely cause the tremors that characterize Parkinson’s disease, have long been reported in patients with the disease. Now, ...
- Hatching disease in a dish: The new frontier in drug testingon November 26, 2019 at 8:21 am
These cells can then be assembled to form tissue-like structures called organoids, or engineered through 3D-bioprinting to create more complex tissues, all of which can be combined to create what has ...
- Alzheimer's disease in a dish?on July 26, 2018 at 5:00 pm
Alzheimer's disease is characterized by extracellular deposits of β-amyloid (Aβ) and intracellular aggregation of hyperphosphorylated tau in the brain. These lead to the hyperactivation of glial cells ...
- ‘Disease in a dish’ among Israeli wonders in heart researchon July 18, 2018 at 1:08 pm
Gepstein and his colleagues used this method to save the life of a young woman in 2011, and have since demonstrated the ability to study and test treatments for dozens of cardiac genetic diseases ...
- Disease-in-a-Dish: The Contribution of Patient-Specific Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Technology to Regenerative Rehabilitationon May 8, 2018 at 5:00 pm
From the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle (DLM, XG, MKC); and Department of Physiology ...
- ATCC: CRISPR-edited Isogenic Cell Modelson January 27, 2018 at 4:00 pm
By targeting specific genes and generating disease-causing mutations, it's possible to better recapitulate human disease in a dish. Learn more about ATCC's CRISPR-edited isogenic cell models.
- Cardiac 'disease in a dish' models advance arrhythmia researchon September 8, 2016 at 4:00 am
New research illustrates how "disease in a dish" stem cell technology can advance cardiology. Scientists led by Chunhui Xu, PhD derived cardiac muscle cells from a teenaged boy with an inherited heart ...
- Scientists create Parkinson's disease in a dishon November 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm
A team of scientists created a human stem cell disease model of Parkinson's disease in a dish. Studying a pair of identical twins, one affected and one unaffected with Parkinson's disease, another ...
- 'Disease in a dish' approach could aid Huntington's disease discovery effortson September 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm
Neural progenitor cells derived from transgenic rhesus macaque iPS cells show features of Huntington's disease pathology, making them a useful tool for therapeutic discovery. Images from Stem Cell ...
via Bing News