Mini brains for progressive brain disease

Updated: Nov 5


Researchers at the University of Cambridge, UK, have developed brain organoids from patients with a severe condition to improve understanding of the disease.


ALS/FTD is a progressive brain disease, causing paralysis and dementia, and affects younger people with the onset usually occurring for patients in their forties.


In a study in Nature Neuroscience, the team took stem cells from ALS/FTD patients and grew them into pea-sized organoids which were kept alive for nearly a year, the longest time to date.


Lead researcher Dr András Lakatos, explained the benefit of this approach: “Not only can we see what may happen early on in the disease – long before a patient might experience any symptoms – but we can also begin to see how the disturbances change over time in each cell.”


Earlier this year, the EU’s Joint Research Council published a knowledge base of more than 550 non-animal models used for research into neurodegenerative diseases.

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