Mini- Neurons from Stem Cells Provide Hope for Alzheimer’s Treatment

Summary: Scientists developed little “mini- brains” from stem cell to assist diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease. These small- brains, created from individual body, effectively reflect the disease of Alzheimer’s on a smaller size. This modern technology may revolutionize healthcare, especially for rural areas, by providing a simpler method to identify neurological conditions.

Important Facts:

    Modern Approach:” Mini- neurons” are built from plant cells and recreate human brain pathology.

  1. Diagnostic Potential: They may offer a new strategy for diagnosing Alzheimer’s and other neurological problems.
  2. Impact on Healthcare: By enabling treatments based on blood tests, this technology may be useful for far-off places.

Origin: University of Saskatchewan

A University of Saskatchewan ( USask ) researcher is creating tiny pseudo-organs from stem cells to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s using an innovative new technique.

Dr. Tyler Wenzel ( PhD ) had no idea how effective his creations would be when he first proposed creating a miniature brain from stem cells.

Then, Wenzel’s “mini- mind” may improve the way Alzheimer’s and another brain- associated diseases are diagnosed and treated.

Wenzel acknowledged that he still struggles to cover his own brain around the beginning “mini-brains” because of how astoundingly successful they were. Credit: Neuroscience News

Never did we ever believe that our ridiculous idea may actually work, he said in his wildest dreams. ” These could be used as a medical application, built from body”.

Wenzel, a doctoral brother in the College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, developed the idea for the “mini- mind” – or more fully, a one- of- a- type brain organoid design– while working under the supervision of Dr. Darrell Mousseau ( PhD ).

Almost any other cell in the body can be modified to become a human stem cell. Wenzel created a tiny artificial organ using stem cells from human blood, which is roughly three millimeters across and visually comparable to what Wenzel called a piece of chewed gum that someone has tried to smooth out once more by using.

These “mini-brains” are created by turning stem cells into functioning brain cells after extracting them from a blood sample. Using small synthetic organoids for research is not a novel concept – but the “mini- brains” developed in Wenzel’s lab are unique.

Wenzel’s lab’s brains are made up of four different types of brain cells, while the majority of brain organoids are made up entirely of neurons, according to a recent article in Frontiers of Cellular Neuroscience.

In testing, Wenzel’s “mini- brains” more accurately reflect a fully- fledged adult human brain, so they can be used to more closely examine neurological conditions of adult patients, such as Alzheimer disease.

And for those “mini- brains” created from the stem cells of individuals who have Alzheimer’s, Wenzel determined that the artificial organ displayed the pathology of Alzheimer’s – just on a smaller scale.

The question then arose:” Could we create something that resembles an entire organ? If stem cells have the capacity to become any cell in the human body?” Wenzel said.

” While we were developing it, I had the crazy idea that if these truly are human brains, if a patient had a disease like Alzheimer’s and we grew their’ mini- brain,’ in theory that tiny brain would have Alzheimer’s”.

Wenzel claimed that this technology has the potential to alter the way Alzheimer’s patients are treated, particularly in rural and remote areas. The Alzheimer Society of Canada has already endorsed this groundbreaking study.

Instead of making patients travel to hospitals or specialized clinics, Wenzel and his colleagues could save the healthcare system a lot of money by developing a common method to diagnose and treat neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s.

If this tool functions as anticipated, he said,” We could just send a blood sample from La Loche or La Ronge to the university and diagnose you like that.”

The “mini-brains” early proof of concept work has been very promising, which means Wenzel will now expand the testing to a wider range of patients.

The researchers are also interested in trying to expand the scope of the “mini- brain” research. Wenzel believes that if they can demonstrate that the “mini-brains” accurately reflect other brain conditions or neurological conditions, they could be used to speed up the diagnosis or evaluate the efficacy of medications on the patient.

As an example, Wenzel pointed to the substantial wait times to see a psychiatrist in Saskatchewan. If the “mini-brains” were used to determine which antidepressant worked best for a depressed patient, it would significantly shorten the time between seeing a doctor and getting a prescription.

Wenzel, a former science teacher in his early years who made the transition into academia and the world of research, said it’s the “nature of research” to formulate a hypothesis and hit the mark in an experiment that makes him happy.

Wenzel acknowledged that he still struggles to wrap his own brain around the early “mini-brains” because of how astoundingly successful they were.

” I’m still in disbelief, but it’s also extremely motivating that something like this happened”, Wenzel said.

It gives me something that has the potential to change the medical landscape and have real impact on society.

About this neurology and Alzheimer’s research news

Author: Daniel Hallen
Source: University of Saskatchewan
Contact: Daniel Hallen – University of Saskatchewan
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: Open access.
By Tyler Wenzel and colleagues,” Brain organoids that gave rise to glia and neural networks after 90 days in culture exhibit human-specific proteoforms.” Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience


After 90 days in culture, brain organoids that were modified to produce glia and neural networks exhibit human-specific proteoforms.

For the study of human brain health and disease, human brain organoids are emerging as potentially translational useful models.

However, it is still unclear whether human brain organoids retain human-specific protein processing.

We show that the composition and cell fate of unguided brain organoids are affected by culture conditions during the embryonic body formation, and that culture conditions can be modified to ensure that glia-associated proteins and neural network activity are present in vitro as early as three months.

&nbsp, Under these optimized conditions, unguided brain organoids generated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs ) derived from male–female siblings are similar in growth rate, size, and total protein content, and exhibit minimal batch- to- batch variability in cell composition and metabolism.

A comparison of neuronal, microglial, and macroglial ( astrocyte and oligodendrocyte ) markers reveals that these brain organoids ‘ profiles are more closely related to autopsied human cortical and cerebellar profiles than those from mouse cortical samples, giving the first evidence that human-specific protein processing is largely conserved in unguided brain organoids.

In essence, our organoid protocol provides four major cell types that appear to process proteins in a manner that resembles that of the human brain, and they do so in less time than other protocols.

In an&nbsp, in situ, this original copy of the human brain and its fundamental characteristics provide the foundation for future studies to investigate human brain-specific protein patterning ( e .g., isoforms, splice variants ) as well as modulate glial and neuronal processes in an unprecedented, in situ, like environment.