Studying Neurodegenerative Diseases Using a “Brain on a Chip”

Scientists at the Draper Laboratory campus in Tampa, Florida, and at the University of South Florida have developed a "brain-on-a-chip." The study, led by Anil Achyuta, a scientist at Draper, commented that "our device is designed to be the most biologically realistic model of brain tissue developed in the lab thus far." The "brain-on-a-chip" was created by bringing together cultured neurons, microglia, astrocytes, and vascular cells that were isolated from vascular and neural layers in rats. These cells and vascular layers were combined on a chip in such a way that allowed the cells to communicate across a microporous membrane. The team was even able to connect this miniature brain to a microfluidic pump that circulated stimulants and nutrients through the vascular channels. This advance was driven by bringing together normally unrelated research areas, including tissue engineering, microfluidics, and neuroscience. The researchers are hoping to one day use the "brain-on-a-chip" to study neurodegenerative diseases and stroke. The results of this study were published September 26 online in the journal, Lab on a Chip. Read more about the story here.

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