Science 2 min read

Researchers Grow Mini Brains That can Control Muscle Contractions

Lab-grown mini brains or cerebral organoids could be used to study human brain development and how brain diseases form | MRC Laboratory

Lab-grown mini brains or cerebral organoids could be used to study human brain development and how brain diseases form | MRC Laboratory

Scientists at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge have reportedly grown mini brains that have functional output. According to the team, their lab-grown blobs of tissues have shown signs of muscle control.

The mini brains, known as cerebral organoids were derived from human stem cells and composed of about two million organized neurons. At 12 to 13 weeks, they can now be compared to a human fetal brain which is not fully developed enough to think, feel, or have consciousness.

However, when a brain organoid was placed near a piece of mouse spinal cord and muscle tissue,  it surprisingly sent out long tendrils to check on the two tissues.

The Mini Brains

The scientists were able to observe how a piece of the blob immediately connected itself to the spinal cord and muscle tissue using long-term live microscopy.

In a statement, the MRC researchers said:

“This is the first demonstration of a functional output from cerebral organoid tissues in a dish.”

Aside from moving, the mini brains were also able to initiate muscle movement like how motor neurons in the human brain works. Under the microscope, the researchers observed how they control muscle contractions. In addition to that, stimulating one of the axon tracts elicited muscle contraction on its own.

In their paper, the researchers wrote:

“These cultures exhibit active neuronal networks, and subcortical projecting tracts can innervate mouse spinal cord explants and evoke contractions of adjacent muscle in a manner dependent on intact organoid-derived innervating tracts.”

Overall, the team’s lab-grown brain organoids have shown remarkable self-organization in its tracts with a functional output. The feat is considered a breakthrough that could open new opportunities to further study the relevant aspects of human brain development as well as brain diseases.

Read More: Lab-Grown Mini Brains Exhibit Electrical Waves For The First Time

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Comments (5)
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  1. Profile Image
    Claire Smith March 22 at 12:23 pm GMT

    I’m just curious about how lab limit the growth of this stem cell? 🤔 so they can call it mini brains.

    • Profile Image
      John Usrey March 23 at 5:01 am GMT

      Hey Claire, snipping bits of tissue from the mini-brain that exactly scientist do.

      • Profile Image
        Claire Smith March 23 at 12:35 pm GMT

        Thanks, John. I guess, the size of the cerebral organoids really matter.

        • Profile Image
          John Usrey March 23 at 11:46 pm GMT

          Yes, Claire, it size really matters. This has effectively extended the life of the organoids.

          • Profile Image
            Claire Smith March 24 at 3:55 am GMT

            Organoids are very intriguing, can a lab-grown mini brain think?🤔

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