Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Gutsy Nerves

Lab-grown tissue mimicking early human embryo nervous system development

13 July 2021

Gutsy Nerves

Piecing together the intricacies of human development needs more than studying cells in a dish. It needs gastruloids. These complex tissues grown in the lab are made from human embryonic stem cells. They’re able to mimic human development in the womb by maturing into a variety of tissue types. Researchers now use a type of gastruloid called the elongating multi-lineage organised (EMLO) gastruloid to study the development of the central and peripheral nervous system. They use fluorescence microscopy and RNA analysis to investigate its development over 40 days. The EMLO gastruloid (pictured) allowed them to track the simultaneous development of early tissues that comprise the heart, gut, spine, muscles and nervous system. Notably, they saw how the peripheral nervous system developed closely alongside the gut, with early spinal cord tissue (red) growing into early gut tissue (green). This model provides an in-depth way to probe tissue interactions during human development.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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