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Miniature human organs have been grown in the brains of mice

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(Dame) A scientist examines the result of a plaque test.  Unsplash
(Dame) A scientist examines the result of a plaque test. Unsplash

Miniature, half-developed versions of organs including the brain, bladder and pancreas are being grown in petri dishes in laboratories around the world.

It might sound like something out of Aldous Huxley’s classic sci-fi movie Brave New World, but these collections of human cells, called organelles, are actually helping scientists find new ways To better understand diseases.

The latest breakthrough came on Wednesday when an international team of researchers revealed in the journal Nature that they had successfully transplanted human brain organoids into the brains of young mice.

like rats growSo do organoids, which allow scientists to search for complex psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.

Laboratories around the world are going through various stages of research using such organelles.

At the Pasteur Institute in France, thousands of brain organoids have been grown since late 2020 in the Molecular Mechanisms of Pathological and Physiological Aging Laboratory.

Inside the lab, hundreds of these tiny white balls are stored at 37 degrees Celsius (98 Fahrenheit), where the machine ensures constant motion to circulate the nutrients and prevent them from clumping together.

in the third dimension

So how did you sleep?

In nature, when eggs are fertilized by sperm, a group of stem cells is formed. Dubbed pluripotent, these stem cells can become any type of cell in the human body, from the brain to the skin.

About two decades ago, Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka found a way to take cells from adults and reprogram them to their previous pluripotent state, which means they can again become any type of cell.

These induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can be produced in vitro, and it is hoped to avoid some of the controversy surrounding the destruction of human embryonic stem cells.

The discovery won Yamanaka the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2012, and it is hoped that it will mark a turning point in the study of human biology.

The laboratory at the Institut Pasteur used iPS cells to grow brain organoids to a size of three to four millimeters in a matter of months.

The organelles are “much simpler than the human cerebral cortex,” said Miria Richetti, head of the laboratory.

“These organelles are made up of different types of cells that interact with each other, forming layers that position themselves correctly when compared to a normal brain,” she said. France Press agency.

This gives the organelles a “three-dimensional structure, very similar to the developing human brain of about 20 weeks of age”.

This is one reason for the excitement in this growing field. Most research is currently done on two-dimensional cells, but the organelles allow scientists to extend into the third dimension.

“Some drugs will work on 2D cells — and then we find out they don’t work on 3D cells,” Richetti said.

Memberships go into space

It is hoped that organoids will provide a new way to understand the different stages of disease, as well as test new drugs. For example, they can be used to learn how drug molecules work — and whether they are toxic.

It may also mean that fewer of these tests should be done on animals.

Much of the brain experiments currently being done on mice or rats “should be done on primates,” said Jürgen Knobelich, a molecular biologist at Austria’s Institute for Molecular Biotechnology, adding that this is “very controversial.”

“Organic models of human stem cells are promising and resolve this conflict,” he told Science Media.

Ricchetti’s team is using its organoids to study the development of the brain affected by Cockayne syndrome, a rare and fatal degenerative disease.

Next year, some of the Institut Pasteur’s samples will boldly go where no organic has gone before.

Some organisms will be sent to the International Space Station to determine how being in space affects human brain cells at the molecular level.



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