Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Lab-grown Brain
23 August 2014

Lab-grown Brain

This might look like fancy confectionary, but it’s actually the spongy scaffold in which a sophisticated type of lab-grown brain tissue was created. The sponge-like material, which is made from a protein found in silk, was formed into six differently coloured rings and seeded with neurons from a rat, while the middle was filled with collagen gel – much like a jam doughnut. Within days, the neurons had formed networks and projected nerve fibres through the gel to connect with neurons across the doughnut. After a few weeks, the centre had become a distinct region of white matter, packed with crisscrossing nerve fibres, while the rings resembled neuron-packed grey matter. When researchers dropped a weight onto the tissue, it responded with changes in electrical and chemical activity much like a real rat brain. Among other things, then, this brain-like tissue could be used to study how brains respond to traumatic injury.

Written by Daniel Cossins

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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