Suppressing two proteins – SMAD and Wnt – in brain organoids produces more accurate brain tissue models
When making replicas, details matter. That's true for organoids too – lab-grown replicas of human organs. To replicate brain tissue, brain organoids need neural stem cells (NSCs) to persist so they can produce the brain's tens of different cell types. This, however, has proven tricky to achieve. Researchers now present brain organoids that do contain long-lasting NSCs by suppressing the activity of two proteins involved in development, SMAD and Wnt, for a short period of time, early in organoid generation. Suppressing both SMAD and Wnt (pictured, right) produced greater levels of long-lasting NSCs (red) compared with suppressing SMAD alone (left). This method also produced defined regions containing outer radial glia – cells found in a particular layer of the brain – suggesting the production of organised brain tissue. These organoids, therefore, provide a more accurate way to model brain tissue and investigate brain disease.
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