Scientists create lab-grown miniature tissues that have the properties of the human 'midbrain' and will help researchers develop treatments for diseases such as Parkinson's. Liane Wimhurst reports.
These tiny lab-grown human brain parts could help find treaments for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's They're called organoids and represent a specific part of the brain, in this case - the midbrain (SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR RESEARCH, NATIONAL NEUROSCIENCE INSTITUTE, PROFESSOR ENG KING TAN SAYING: "We have shown that these subsets of neurons contain these pigments which are specific to certain groups of neurons within the midbrain. So I think this gives us the confidence that we have created, at least at this moment in time, a mini midbrain organoid that could provide us with a better model for studying diseases." Scientists first managed to replicate brain tissue in 3D in Austria in 2013 In petris dishes they turned stem cells into tiny pieces of the human brain These Singapore scientists detected the black pigment neuromelanin for the first time in an organoid (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF GENOME INSTITUTE OF SINGAPORE, PROFESSOR HUCK-HUI NG, SAYING: "In Parkinson's disease patient there is a dramatic loss of dopaminergic neurons and neuromelanine in the brains of these patients. So now we can start to recreate the same disease conditions in-vitro and to do more research to understand how can we reverse the loss of dopaminergic neurons, the loss of neuromelanine." Parkinson's disease is the focus of the research conducted at the Genome Insititute of Singapore as it affects the midbrain But the scientific potential of organoids is vast and could unlock the mysteries of conditions from austism to schizophrenia.