AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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Building Better Brains: A Bioengineered Upgrade for Organoids

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A few years ago, Jürgen Knoblich and his team at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA) had pioneered brain organoid technology. They developed a method for cultivating three-dimensional brain-like structures, so called cerebral organoids, in a dish. This discovery has tremendous potential as it could revolutionize drug discovery and disease research. Their lab grown organ-models mimic early human brain development in a surprisingly precise way, allowing for targeted analysis of human neuropsychiatric disorders, that are otherwise not possible. Using this cutting-edge methodology, research teams around the world have already revealed new secrets of human brain formation and its defects that can lead to microcephaly, epilepsy or autism.

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