A team of scientists has managed to 3D print a miniature brain that behaves like a “real” one. The neurons lengthen and create connections to grow the organ. The advance could ultimately make it possible to do without testing on animals in particular.
It’s crazy what you can do with one 3D printer. From a small object like a computer mouse perfectly adapted to our hand to the components and space launchers of a rocket, including human organs. In the field of medicine, 3D printing allows for fairly major advances. In Australia, scientists have succeeded thanks to it in create a fully functional mini-brain.
Most often, we cultivate a single layer of neurons by making them grow above measuring electrodes. But the real brain is not flat. We also know how to create a set of stem cells which will take a 3-dimensional form called organoid, except that controlling their growth is difficult. The solution ? The in-between.
The Australian team filled cartridges withorganic inkin reality rat brain cells suspended in gel. The printer gets to work alternating layers with and without cells. The process imitates the alternation between white matter and gray matter of the brain. Of the stimulation and measurement electrodes are interspersed to stimulate the growth of the neural network and record its activity.
Researchers have 3D printed a brain that functions and develops
The results indicate that the mini-brain behaves exactly as expected : 3D printed neurons extend their axons (“arms”) through the cell-free layers to join others, creating a network like that of the real brain. A behavior made possible by integrating into the fabrics created the chemical elements allowing the phenomenon and maintenance of neurons in good health.
In the near future, miniature brains would be the alternative of choice to tests on live animalswhile facilitating the study of basic brain function. Stephanie Willerth, a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Victoria in Canada, was not involved in the research, but is already imagining hospitals printing patient brain samples affected by brain damage or neurodegenerative diseases. This would make it possible to test the effectiveness of a particular treatment before administering it.