This is the last frontier separating us from the next generation Androids. A team from Tufts University managed to create a brain tissue that survived for weeks. The artificial brain tissue is made out of rat neurons and can survive damages similarly to a natural brain.
That is highly important, as even mild injuries have lasting effects on the brain.
Scientists formed the artificial brain tissue by using spongy silk protein and a gel based on collagen. Afterward they inserted neurons from rats.
“The stiffness of the silk biomaterial could be tuned to accommodate the cortical neurons and the different types of gels, maintaining both stability in culture and brain-like tissue elasticity,” said the paper’s first author, Min D. Tang-Schomer, Ph.D., post-doctoral scholar in biomedical engineering at Tufts. “The tissue maintained viability for at least nine weeks—significantly longer than cultures made of collagen or hydrogel alone—and also offered structural support for network connectivity that is crucial for brain activity.”
The artificial brain tissue will help scientists establish how the brain reacts to trauma and diseases
The scientists were interested in finding out how the brain tissue responds to trauma. A weight has been dropped on the artificial brain tissue, as researchers intend to discover new treatments for traumatic brain injuries. As a consequence, the tissue released as expected a high level of glutamate. This neurotransmitter is released after trauma by in vivo organisms. Moreover, the tissue presented electrical hyperactivity similar to the live brain.
This is the first time scientists managed to replicate brain tissue. They plan to further develop the model, as it will be very useful in studying various diseases and brain traumas. So far, such studies have been performed on animals or brain slices, but none have of them have the potential to provide the same results as the artificial brain tissue.
With the doughnut shaped brain-tissue, researchers managed to replicate the white matter – grey matter interaction, which has never been realized before.
The next step will be to create an artificial brain tissue that will survive for up to six months and introduce human neurons. To that, they plan on adding a vascular system which will allow them to study how drugs interact when they move from blood to brain, the New York Times adds.
The results of the research were published in the August 11 Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.