This advance by Austria’s Dr. Knoblich has big implications for studying brain disease. If researchers can study human brain cells in the lab instead of using animal models, the door will open to better, more effective, therapies. From the WSJ:
Researchers have used stem cells to grow pea-sized structures that resemble the developing human brain, an advance that offers a way to model brain maladies that are otherwise hard to study.
The human brain is one of the most elaborate natural structures known to science. These new lab-grown “mini brains” are imperfect, and a long way off from matching the real thing.
The advance is expected to allow researchers to investigate human brain disease in a lab—something that currently is a big challenge. Brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s typically are studied in rats, mice and other animals, but these are inadequate proxies mainly because the human brain is much more complex.
By contrast, the new approach should enable scientists to study neurological disorders by examining brain tissue derived from actual patients.