An in vitro brain to test molecules and future medications

Publié le : 23 April 2013

Inspired by the technology of iPSC (induced pluripotent stem cells) discovered by Prof. Yamanaka, Nobel prize-winner for Medicine in 2012, researchers at Geneva University have set up a start-up to create ‘micro-brains’ by producing brain cells which gradually create neural tissue. The size of a piece of confetti, this micro human tissue is reported to be capable "of miming the characteristics of our brain." To prove this capability, the researchers carried out several tests, of which "one of the steps consists of ascertaining the electrical activity of the tissues." After living for several months, this "human in vitro model should eventually enable us to analyse the effect of thousands of toxic molecules on our central nervous system” or to work with the pharmaceutical industry. Indeed, "prospective medications to combat diseases of the central nervous system could  […] be tested on the micro tissue" in order to determine their effectiveness. 
Mathurin Baquié, director of the Neurix start-up, explains: "We propose a system based on a human in vitro model that allows us in the first years of development to devise a test enabling us to obtain information on a particular toxicity or the effectiveness of medication." Thus, the article points out, this system of research "would considerably reduce the pre-clinical phase necessary before putting a new molecule on the market.

Over the coming years, the scientists "hope to bring this micro tissue to a more mature stage and perhaps test molecules intended to treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s."

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