Few new therapies for neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s or schizophrenia make it past developmental phases. Many times, what works in an animal model doesn’t quite translate to humans. To avoid relying so heavily on animal testing, scientists can take skin cells from a patient and make their own lab-grown human neurons. These brain organoids that started life as single human skin cells can be used to mimic a disease’s key characteristics. Scientists have recently taken this approach one step further by grafting these lab-grown neurons (in green) onto mouse brain tissue (in red). By allowing the neurons to receive the nutrients they need directly from living tissue, scientists can better mimic real-world conditions for these brain organoids. Ultimately, this grafting technique will allow scientists to create better tests for potential new therapies, so that more new treatments for diseases like Alzheimer’s or schizophrenia can make it out of the lab.
Written by Gaëlle Coullon
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.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.