An Accessible Approach to Making a Mini-Brain

A bioengineering team at Brown University can grow “mini-brains” of neurons and supporting cells that form networks and are electrically active.Image credit: Hoffman-Kim lab/Brown UniversityPROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — If you need a working miniature brain — say for drug testing, to test neural tissue transplants, or to experiment with how stem cells work — a new paper describes how to build one with what the Brown University authors say is relative ease and low expense. The little balls of brain aren’t performing any cogitation, but they produce electrical signals and form their own neural connections — synapses — making them readily producible testbeds for neuroscience research, the authors said. “We think of this as a way to have a better in vitro [lab] model that can maybe reduce animal use,”…


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