‘Brain on a chip’: In vitro model finds regional links to specific diseases, treatments

Mutations are changes to the DNA code, such as when one nucleotide base (A, T, G or C) is incorrectly subbed for another. DNA image via www.shutterstock.com
Mutations are changes to the DNA code, such as when one nucleotide base (A, T, G or C) is incorrectly subbed for another. DNA image via www.shutterstock.com

We have come a long way in our understanding of how the brain works, but the more we know about it, the more we realize we have much to learn.

Using an in vitro brain-on-a-chip that they designed to model the brain’s connectivity, [researchers from Harvard University were] able to extensively characterize the differences between neurons from the different regions of the brain.

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Image of the in vitro model showing three distinct regions of the brain connected by axons.
CREDIT: Disease Biophysics Group/Harvard University

The researchers modeled the three regions of the brain that are primarily affected by schizophrenia, namely the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. The team characterized each region in vitro in terms of cell composition, protein expression, metabolism, and neural electrical activity. After that, they analyzed how neurons from each region of the brain changed when in communication with neurons from other regions.

“It’s no surprise that neurons in distinct regions of the brain are different, but it is surprising just how different they are,” said co-author Stephanie Dauth. “We found that the cell-type ratio, the metabolism, the protein expression, and the electrical activity all differ between regions in vitro. This shows that it does make a difference which brain region’s neurons you’re working with.”

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Scientists Have Made a New “Brain-On-A-Chip”

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