How Tiny Lab-Grown Human Brains Are Giving Big Insights Into Autism

First came lab-grown mini-hearts. Then came 3D printed skin. Now scientists have taken “body on a chip” to a whole new level.

Starting with skin cells from patient biopsies, scientists transformed them back into stem cells, and from those grew pea-sized, self-organizing, crazy-looking nuggets of living — yes, LIVING — brain.

These “cerebral organoids” are the brainchild of Dr. Madeline Lancaster, a neuroscientist at Cambridge who is interested in how our brains develop as embryos. A few years back while working as a postdoc in Vienna at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA), Lancaster noticed off-hand that her cultured brain cells weren’t sticking to the bottom of the dish as usual — instead, they floated up and aggregated into tiny balls.

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Curiosity piqued, Lancaster tinkered around with growth conditions until her mini-brains expanded several millimeters wide — tiny compared to a normal human brain, but still something previously unachievable.

continue with video http://singularityhub.com/2015/07/26/how-tiny-lab-grown-human-brains-are-giving-big-insights-into-autism/

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