(HealthDay News) – A three-dimensional model of the brain derived from cultured cells recapitulates the organization and development of the brain and has been used to identify a defect in microcephaly, a disorder that has been difficult to model in mice, according to a study published online Aug. 28 in Nature.

Madeline A. Lancaster, PhD, from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Science in Vienna, and colleagues described the development of a three-dimensional tissue culture system to derive brain tissue (cerebral organoids) in vitro, then performed cerebral organoid culture from induced pluripotent stem cells generated from the fibroblasts of a patient with severe microcephaly.

The researchers found that the cerebral organoids developed various discrete, independent brain regions, including a cerebral cortex, and recapitulated features of human cortical development. Premature neuronal differentiation was observed in cerebral organoids derived from the patient with microcephaly, a disorder difficult to model in mice.

“Together, these data show that three-dimensional organoids can recapitulate development and disease even in this most complex human tissue,” Lancaster and colleagues conclude.

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