Body of Knowledge: Self-Organizing Brain Cells

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Collin Edington, Iris Lee, Linda Griffith

The image shows a brain organoid grown on a synthetic PEG hydrogel.

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Collin Edington, Iris Lee, Linda Griffith
MIT Department of Biological Engineering and Koch Institute

Imagine a uniform field of neural stem cells sitting on gel-like matrix. Slowly, they begin to differentiate, grouping and clustering together until they have self-assembled into a mini-organ--a brain!

The neurons (green) and astrocytes (red) seen here are part of the Griffith Lab's “Human on a Chip" project. Many different “mini-organs” are linked together in a bioreactor platform, allowing researchers to study the interactions of multiple organs and the crosstalk between them in an in vitro setting, and to accelerate the development of novel disease treatments.

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Collin Edington and Iris Lee describe the science behind their image. You can also watch the presentation from the exhibition opening event on March 23, 2017 here.