The Houston Methodist Research Institute is making mini brains from human stem cells that put researchers on a fast track to repair the nervous system after injury or disease of the brain and spinal cord.
Houston Methodist neuroscientist Robert Krencik, Ph.D., and his team have developed a new system to reduce the time it takes to grow these brain models, which will give them the ability to screen drugs and study what’s behind disease-causing mutations more quickly. Their findings are described in an article titled “Systematic three-dimensional coculture rapidly recapitulates interactions between human neurons and astrocytes,” in the Dec. 12 issue of Stem Cell Reports.
“We always felt like what we were doing in the lab was not precisely modeling how the cells act within the human brain,” Krencik said. “So, for the first time, when we put these cells together systematically, they dramatically changed their morphological complexity, size and shape. They look like cells as you would see them within the human brain, so now we can study cells in the lab in a more natural environment.”