Brain organoids finding, a step to treat hereditary diseases

The neuroscience project to study the human brain has a unique status in biomedical research. Two great projects are encouraging these initiatives, the “BRAIN Initiative” in the United States, and the Human Brain Project in Europe.

The inability to experiment on humans for obvious reasons has been replaced by experiments with ex vivo brain tissue and human brain organoids (read more HERE). Indeed the findings that allowed brain organoids to be produced were pivotal in the study of the human brain, about which we still know so little.

Brain cell clusters grown in the laboratory by a year

One of the leading research lines has already investigated diseases such as autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and other diseases believed to be hereditary. However, this research line is at a very early stage. In this respect, an interesting article was published last February in Science (read HERE), describing, for the first time, how brain cell clusters grown in a lab for more than a year showed changes similar to those in a newborn’s brain. The novelty of this discovery — and a very promising finding — is that, even in the unnatural conditions of a lab dish, “the cells just know how to progress,” says the article.

The research team also looked at the expression of genes associated with brain disorders, including autism, schizophrenia, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease. They “identified clusters of these genes whose activity rose and fell in step, reaching their peak expression at the same time”, concluding that the findings could establish “at what time point an organoid might be most useful for modeling a given disorder” [our emphasis]. This is the first step towards developing preclinical models of genetic disorders to prevent these hereditary diseases and provides great hope for advancing in the search for a cure for these conditions. In the field of the brain project several bioethical problems are being debated (read HERE) but these experiments appear to have not ethical problems.

 

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