Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Crossed Wires

A model for studying living human brain cell connectivity and function

15 November 2018

Crossed Wires

These colourful structures are human nerve cells, growing and connecting inside a brain. But it’s not a human brain – this a mouse brain, into which human nerve cells have been transplanted. Studying nerve connections inside a living human brain is extremely difficult, but animal models don’t accurately reflect the complexity and molecular makeup of human cells. Researchers have now developed a clever technique to solve the problem: human skin cells are reprogrammed into stem cells, then converted into nerve cells that will grow inside a mouse’s skull. Comparing nerve cells grown from people with the developmental disorder Down syndrome with those from unaffected individuals is providing important new insights into what happens in a healthy brain as it grows and develops and what might be going wrong in Down syndrome. Hopefully, the discoveries from this ingenious approach will lead to future treatments to improve life for people with the condition.

Read more about this research from the MRC LMS

Written by Kat Arney

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