New York, Feb 5 (IANS) A team of American scientists has developed the first 3D printed brain tissue that can grow and function like typical brain tissue.
The development has important implications for scientists studying the brain and working on treatments for a wide range of neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
“This could be a very powerful model to help us understand how brain cells and brain parts communicate in humans,” said Su-Chun Zhang, professor of neuroscience and neurology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. , USA.
“It could change the way we look at stem cell biology, neuroscience and the pathogenesis of many neurological and psychiatric disorders,” Zhang said.
Instead of using the traditional 3D printing approach of stacking layers vertically, the researchers went horizontally.
They placed brain cells, neurons grown from induced pluripotent stem cells, in a “bio-ink” gel that was softer than previous attempts.
“The tissue still has enough structure to hold itself together, but it’s soft enough to allow neurons to grow with each other and start talking to each other,” Zhang said in the Cell Stem Cell journal article. .
Cells are placed side by side like pencils placed side by side on a table. Printed cells reach through the medium to form connections within each printed layer, as well as between layers, forming networks comparable to the human brain.
Neurons communicate, send signals, interact with each other via neurotransmitters, and even form proper networks with supporting cells that were added to the printed tissue.
“We printed the cerebral cortex and the striatum and what we found was quite surprising,” Zhang said.
“Even when we printed different cells belonging to different parts of the brain, they could still talk to each other in a very special and specific way.”
The printing technique offers precision, control over the types and arrangement of cells, not found in brain organoids, miniature organs used to study brains. Organoids grow with less organization and control. The technique does not require special bioprinting equipment or culture methods to maintain healthy tissue, and can be studied in depth using microscopes, standard imaging techniques and electrodes already common in the field.