Mini midbrains provide next generation platforms to investigate human brain biology, diseases and therapeutics
Scientists in Singapore have made a big leap on research on the ‘mini-brain’. These advanced mini versions of the human midbrain will help researchers develop treatments and conduct other studies into Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and ageing-related brain diseases.
These mini midbrain versions are three-dimensional miniature tissues that are grown in the laboratory and they have certain properties of specific parts of the human brains. This is the first time that the black pigment neuromelanin has been detected in an organoid model. The study also revealed functionally active dopaminergic neurons.
The human midbrain, which is the information superhighway, controls auditory, eye movements, vision and body movements. It contains special dopaminergic neurons that produce dopamine – which carries out significant roles in executive functions, motor control, motivation, reinforcement, and reward. High levels of dopamine elevate motor activity and impulsive behaviour, whereas low levels of dopamine lead to slowed reactions and disorders like PD, which is characterised by stiffness and difficulties in initiating movements.
Also causing PD is the dramatic reduction in neuromelanin production, leading to the degenerative condition of patients, which includes tremors and impaired motor skills. This creation is a key breakthrough for studies in PD, which affects an estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide. Furthermore, there are people who are affected by other causes of parkinsonism. Researchers now have access to the material that is affected in the disease itself, and different types of studies can be conducted in the laboratory instead of through simulations or on animals. Using stem cells, scientists have grown pieces of tissue, known as brain organoids, measuring about 2 to 3 mm long. These organoids contain the necessary hallmarks of the human midbrain, which are dopaminergic neurons and neuromelanin.
Jointly led by Prof Ng Huck Hui from A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and Assistant Prof Shawn Je from Duke-NUS Medical School, this collaborative research between GIS, Duke-NUS, and the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) is funded by the National Medical Research Council’s Translational Clinical Research (TCR) Programme In Parkinson’s disease (PD) and A*STAR. Other collaborators are from the Lieber Institute for Brain Development, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the Nanyang Technological University.
Assistant Prof Shawn Je from Duke-NUS Medical School’s Neuroscience & Behavioural Disorders Programme said, “It is remarkable that our midbrain organoids mimic human midbrain development. The cells divide, cluster together in layers, and become electrically and chemically active in three-dimensional environment like our brain. Now we can really test how these mini brains react to existing or newly developed drugs before treating patients, which will be a game changer for drug development.”
Prof Tan Eng King, Research Director and Senior Consultant, Department of Neurology at NNI and Lead PI of the TCR Programme in PD, remarked, “The human brain is arguably the most complex organ and chronic brain diseases pose considerable challenges to doctors and patients. This achievement by our Singapore team represents an initial but momentous scientific landmark as we continue to strive for better therapies for our patients.”
GIS Executive Director Prof Ng Huck Hui said, “Considering one of the biggest challenges we face in PD research is the lack of accessibility to the human brains, we have achieved a significant step forward. The midbrain organoids display great potential in replacing animals’ brains which are currently used in research; we can now use these midbrains in culture instead to advance our understanding and future studies for the disease, and perhaps even other related diseases.”
Learn more: Singapore scientists grow mini human brains
The Latest on: Midbrain organoids
via Google News
The Latest on: Midbrain organoids
- Braingineering's human midbrain organoids as novel model for neurodegenerative diseaseson November 18, 2019 at 7:00 am
These human midbrain organoids contain spatially organized groups of dopaminergic neurons, which make them an attractive model for the study of Parkinson’s disease. Midbrain organoids are ...
- Human Cell Models of the Developing Cortexon October 17, 2019 at 8:27 am
At the front, the neural tube is patterned meticulously to form the forebrain, midbrain, hindbrain ... forebrain spheroids, and cerebral organoids, which are the most complex and contain the most ...
- Organoid single-cell genomic atlas uncovers human-specific features of brain developmenton October 16, 2019 at 10:06 am
midbrain and hindbrain regions. Brain-region composition varied in organoids from different iPSC lines, but regional gene-expression patterns remained largely reproducible across individuals. We ...
- Neuroscientists call for an ethical framework for transplanting human 'mini-brains' into animalson October 14, 2019 at 5:15 am
Lab-grown brain organoids—which are derived from human pluripotent stem cells and grown to a size no bigger than a pea—can recapitulate important brain architecture and several basic layers of the ...
- Lean may be more prone to addictionon June 25, 2019 at 5:00 pm
In previous attempts to develop treatments for metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes, researchers have paid increasing attention to the brain’s reward circuits located in the midbrain, with ...
- Modeling Parkinson’s disease in midbrain-like organoidson April 5, 2019 at 2:42 am
After four to five passages, mfNPCs were used as a starting population for midbrain-specific organoids. mfNPCs were cultured on Matrigel-coated 12-well cell-culture plates (Greiner). mfNPC expansion ...
- 'Mini Human Brains' To Help Develop Treatment For Parkinson'son August 1, 2016 at 8:14 am
These organoids contain the necessary hallmarks of the human midbrain, which are dopaminergic neurons and neuromelanin. These advanced mini versions of the human mid-brain will help researchers ...
- Scientists grow ‘mini human brains’ in lab to fight Parkinson’son August 1, 2016 at 5:18 am
These organoids contain the necessary hallmarks of the human midbrain, which are dopaminergic neurons and neuromelanin. ‘Considering one of the biggest challenges we face in PD research is the lack of ...
- Scientists grow mini human brainson July 29, 2016 at 5:00 pm
These advanced mini versions of the human midbrain will help researchers develop treatments ... The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). "Scientists grow mini human brains." ...
- Scientists grow mini human brainson July 29, 2016 at 3:50 am
These organoids contain the necessary hallmarks of the human midbrain, which are dopaminergic neurons and neuromelanin. Jointly led by Prof Ng Huck Hui from A*STAR's Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS ...
via Bing News