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Brain organoids to 'revolutionise' neurosciences


Brain organoid

Researchers in the Netherlands have developed mini-organs from human fetal brain tissue, offering a groundbreaking approach to studying brain development and diseases.


Until now, the creation of organoids (cell cultures that aim to mimic a human organ) were hard to develop for brain tissue and were based on undifferentiated stem cells – ones that have the potential to become any type of body cell.  


Now, a new technique developed at the Princess Máxima Center and the Hubrecht Institute, both in Utrecht, involves developing brain organoids directly from human fetal brain stem cells, meaning they can better mimic the brain's complex structure.


The study, published in Cell, derived the fetal brain tissue from voluntary abortions from anonymous and willing donors.


Hans Clevers, one of the leaders of the study, said: “Until now, we were able to derive organoids from most human organs, but not from the brain – it’s really exciting that we’ve now been able to jump that hurdle as well.”


Another lead researcher, Benedetta Artegiani, at Princess Máxima Center, added: "It could also help understand how mistakes in that process can lead to neurodevelopmental diseases such as microcephaly, as well as other diseases that can stem from derailed development, including childhood brain cancer.”


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