Researchers developed a functional human brain tissue by the 3D-printing technology

This accomplishment has significant ramifications for researchers researching the brain and developing therapies for a variety of neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have created the first brain tissue that can be printed in three dimensions and can grow and function normally.

This accomplishment has significant ramifications for researchers researching the brain and developing therapies for a variety of neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

This could be a hugely powerful model to help us understand how brain cells and parts of the brain communicate in humans.

It could change the way we look at stem cell biology, neuroscience, and the pathogenesis of many neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Su-Chun Zhang, professor of neuroscience and neurology at UW–Madison’s Waisman Center.

Zhang and Yuanwei Yan, a scientist in Zhang’s group, claim that printing techniques have restricted the success of earlier attempts to print brain tissue.

The findings of their research were published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

The researchers used a horizontal technique rather than the conventional one of stacking layers vertically in 3D printing. In contrast to earlier attempts, they placed brain cells—neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells in a softer “bio-ink” gel.

The tissue still has enough structure to hold together but it is soft enough to allow the neurons to grow into each other and start talking to each other.

Su-Chun Zhang

The cells are arranged in a row similar to how pencils are arranged on a tabletop.

Our tissue stays relatively thin and this makes it easy for the neurons to get enough oxygen and enough nutrients from the growth media.

Yuanwei Yan

The cells can communicate with one another, as seen by the data, which speak for themselves. The printed cells establish networks akin to human brains by reaching through the medium to form connections inside and across printed layers. Neurotransmitters allow neurons to connect, communicate, send messages, and even create correct networks with support cells added to the printed tissue.

We printed the cerebral cortex and the striatum and what we found was quite striking.

Even when we printed different cells belonging to different parts of the brain, they were still able to talk to each other in a very special and specific way.

Su-Chun Zhang

The cells can communicate with one another, as seen by the data, which speak for themselves. The printed cells establish networks akin to human brains by reaching through the medium to form connections inside and across printed layers. Neurotransmitters allow neurons to connect, communicate, send messages, and even create correct networks with support cells added to the printed tissue.

Also Read| Reprogramming of T cells to fight against ageing – Research

Our lab is very special in that we are able to produce pretty much any type of neurons at any time. Then we can piece them together at almost any time and in whatever way we like.

Because we can print the tissue by design, we can have a defined system to look at how our human brain network operates. We can look very specifically at how the nerve cells talk to each other under certain conditions because we can print exactly what we want.

Su-Chun Zhang

Flexibility is offered by that specificity. The printed brain tissue might be used to test novel treatment possibilities, observe how the brain develops, investigate the signalling between cells in Down syndrome, and examine the relationships between Alzheimer’s disease-affected neighbouring tissue and healthy tissue.

In the past, we have often looked at one thing at a time, which means we often miss some critical components. Our brain operates in networks. We want to print brain tissue this way because cells do not operate by themselves. They talk to each other. This is how our brain works and it has to be studied all together like this to truly understand it.

Our brain tissue could be used to study almost every major aspect of what many people at the Waisman Center are working on. It can be used to look at the molecular mechanisms underlying brain development, human development, developmental disabilities, neurodegenerative disorders, and more.

Su-Chun Zhang

Many laboratories should also be able to use the new printing technology. It may be thoroughly examined using microscopes, conventional imaging tools, and electrodes that are currently widely used in the field. It does not require specialised bio-printing equipment or culture processes to maintain the tissue’s health.

Nonetheless, the researchers hope to investigate the possibility of specialisation by honing their bio-ink and equipment to enable certain cell orientations inside their printed tissue.

Also Read| Children with hereditary deafness receive back their hearing ability through gene therapy

Right now, our printer is a benchtop commercialized one.

We can make some specialized improvements to help us print specific types of brain tissue on-demand.

Yuanwei Yan

Source: UNIVERSITY of WISCONSIN–MADISON – News

Journal Reference: Yuanwei Yan, Xueyan Li, Yu Gao, Sakthikumar Mathivanan, Linghai Kong, Yunlong Tao, Yi Dong, Xiang Li, Anita Bhattacharyya, Xinyu Zhao, Su-Chun Zhang. 3D bioprinting of human neural tissues with functional connectivityCell Stem Cell, 2024; 31 (2): 260 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2023.12.009


Last Modified

Journal Updates

Next Post

Chi-square Test - Formula and Applications

Sun Feb 4 , 2024
A statistical technique for determining if categorical variables have a significant relationship is the chi-square test. When attempting to determine if the observed frequency distribution of categorical data deviates from the anticipated frequency distribution, it is beneficial. Working of Chi-Square Tests Formulate Hypotheses Establishing the alternative hypothesis (H1) and the […]
chi square test

Related Articles