Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Brain Maker

Organoids of neurons grown from stem cells mimic electrical activity of early brain development

09 October 2020

Brain Maker

Scientists often peer into nerve cells or neurons in the hope of learning more about how they carry electrical impulses around the nervous system. Aiming to get as close as possible to real-life, this bioengineered neuronal organoid (BENO) mimics the early brain – where, as seen in close-up on the right, stem cells specialise or differentiate into many different types of neuron and form networks that change and reorganise during important developmental stages. First grown from differentiating human induced pluripotent stem cells, 60 days later this model brain has a network of different neuronal cells (highlighted in blue) and supportive astrocytes (in green and red). Earlier in life, BENOs display temporary shifts in their electrical activity, similar to giant depolarising potential events, spontaneous electrical activity believed to help with development in the foetal brain. These similarities suggest BENOs are promising tools for studying the details brain development and disease.

Written by John Ankers

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