Building better brains—a bioengineered upgrade for organoids

A few years ago, Jürgen Knoblich as well as his team at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA) have pioneered brain organoid technology. They developed a method for cultivating three-dimensional brain-like structures, so called cerebral organoids, in a dish. This kind of discovery has tremendous potential as the item could revolutionize drug discovery as well as disease research. Their lab grown organ-designs mimic early human brain development in a surprisingly precise way, allowing for targeted analysis of human neuropsychiatric disorders, in which are otherwise not possible. Using This kind of cutting-edge methodology, research teams around the earth have already revealed brand new secrets of human brain formation as well as its defects in which can lead to microcephaly, epilepsy or autism.

In a brand new study published in Nature Biotechnology, scientists via Cambridge as well as Vienna present a brand new method in which combines the organoid method with bioengineering. The researchers use special polymer fibers made of a material called PLGA) to generate a floating scaffold in which was then covered with human cells. By using This kind of ground-breaking combination of engineering as well as stem cell culture, the scientists are able to form more elongated organoids in which more closely resemble the shape of an actual human embryo. By doing so, the organoids become more consistent as well as reproducible.

“This kind of study is actually one of the first attempts to combine organoids with bioengineering. Our brand new method takes advantage of as well as combines the unique strengths of each approach, namely the intrinsic self-organization of organoids as well as the reproducibility afforded by bioengineering. We make use of tiny microfilaments to guide the shape of the organoids without driving tissue identity, “explains Madeline Lancaster, group leader at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge as well as first author of the paper.

This kind of guided self-organization allows engineered cerebral organoids, or enCORs, to more reproducibly form cerebral cortical tissue however maintain the tissue complexity as well as overall size in which comes about when the tissues are still allowed to develop according to intrinsic developmental programs. As a result, enCORs also develop later tissue architecture in which more faithfully designs the organization seen in an actual developing brain.

Jürgen Knoblich, deputy scientific director of IMBA as well as last author on the paper, elucidates the implications of the novel technology: “An important hallmark of the bioengineered organoids is actually their increased surface to volume ratio. Neurons ‘have more space’ as well as can properly migrate as well as position themselves in a layer in which in an actual developing brain would likely later become the grey matter. Because of their increased tissue architecture, enCORs can allow for the study of a broader array of neurological diseases where neuronal positioning is actually thought to be affected, including lissencephaly (smooth brain), epilepsy, as well as even autism as well as schizophrenia.”

Explore further:
A closer look at brain organoid development

More information:
Madeline A Lancaster et al. Guided self-organization as well as cortical plate formation in human brain organoids, Nature Biotechnology (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nbt.3906

Journal reference:
Nature Biotechnology

Provided by:
Institute of Molecular Biotechnology

Building better brains—a bioengineered upgrade for organoids

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