Lab-grown 'mini human brains' to fight Parkinson's (John Lund/Getty Images)
In a first, a team of scientists successfully grew mini-brains in the lab which will help develop treatments and conduct other studies into Parkinson's Disease (PD) and ageing-related brain diseases.
These mini midbrain versions are 3D miniature tissues that are grown in the laboratory and have certain properties of specific parts of the human brains.
In PD, the neuromelanin production reduces, leading to the degenerative condition of patients which includes tremors and impaired motor skills.
The scientists detected the black pigment neuromelanin in an organoid model. The study also revealed functionally active dopaminergic neurons.
Using stem cells, scientists grew pieces of tissue known as brain organoids, measuring about 2 to 3 mm long. These organoids contain the necessary hallmarks of the human midbrain, which are dopaminergic neurons and neuromelanin.
aœConsidering one of the biggest challenges we face in PD research is the lack of accessibility to the human brains, we have achieved a significant step forward, said Professor Ng Huck Hui from The Agency for Science, Technology and Research's Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS).
The midbrain organoids display great potential in replacing animals' brains which are currently used in research; we can now use these midbrains in culture instead to advance our understanding and future studies for the disease, and perhaps even other related diseases, he added in a statement.