A team of scientists has developed the first brain tissue printed on a 3D printer. It can grow and function like the real thing.
Neuroscience writes about this with reference to research in Cell Stem Cell.
This discovery by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will help neuroscientists study the brain and create treatments for nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
“This could be an extremely powerful model to help us understand how cells and parts of the brain communicate with each other in humans.
Our tissue remains relatively thin, and this makes it easier for neurons to receive sufficient oxygen and nutrients from their growth medium” says Su-Chun Zhang, a professor of neuroscience and neurology at the Weisman Center at White Madison University.
According to him, this research can change the way scientists look at stem cell biology, neuroscience, and the pathogenesis of many neurological and psychiatric disorders.
To “grow” brain tissue, researchers used prematurely grown neurons from stem cells and created gel “frames” that were seeded with living cells.
The scientists did not use typical 3D bioprinting, in which living cells are deposited together with bioink, but changed the direction of the flow – instead of stacking the layers vertically, they printed them horizontally.
“The tissue still has enough structure to hold together, but it’s soft enough to allow neurons to grow into each other and start communicating.
Even when we printed different cells belonging to different parts of the brain, they were still able to ‘talk’ to each other in a very special and specific way.”– says Zhang.
According to the scientists, the tissue remains relatively thin, which allows neurons to receive enough oxygen and nutrients from the growth environment.
At the same time, the printing technique provides precision and control over cell types and placement.
The printed brain tissue can be used for:
- study of signals between neurons in Down syndrome;
- interactions between healthy tissue and adjacent, affected Alzheimer’s disease;
- testing of new drugs;
- observation of brain growth.
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