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Cultivating mini-brains to understand disorders and test medications

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Brain cells of people with intellectual disabilities or certain developmental disorders communicate differently than brain cells of people without those disorders. Researchers at the Radboudumc have discovered this by comparing the electrical brain waves of both groups. Their findings were recently published in Nature Communications and highlighted in the news by the Dutch Broadcasting Foundation NOS.

Principal investigator Nael Nadif Kasri grew brain cells from skin cells of patients with Kleefstra syndrome and from healthy people in a petri dish with a chip. These brain cells have started to form networks, mini-brains. Thanks to the chip in the lab dish, the researchers were able to tap into the communication between the brain cells.

"For the past year and a half, I've been researching Dravet syndrome," says Nadif Kasri. In Dravet, very young children get severe epileptic seizures that damage their brains. "It is important to intervene as early as possible. That's why we are now testing the twenty or so existing drugs against epilepsy or combinations of these drugs, grown in petri dishes. We're testing them all at the same time in different bowls."

The dishes with chips in which brain cells are grown. Foto credits: Nael Nadif Kasri.

Source: NOS, whole story in Dutch Mini-hersenen kweken om aandoeningen te begrijpen en medicijnen te testen

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