Jens Schwamborn discusses the future of brain research

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Jens Schwamborn uses brain organoids that are grown in vitro for neurological diseases like Parkinson’s.

(1888PressRelease) December 25, 2021 – Prof. Jens Schwamborn is a neuroscientist and as such deals with the most complex organ of the human body: the brain. This complexity is what severely limits scientific research, for ethical and moral reasons. It is therefore challenging to research neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. This has been a problem for scientists since the beginning. Jens Schwamborn and his team at OrganoTherapeutics (http://organo-therapeutics.com/), a spin-off from the University of Luxembourg, have found a solution to precisely this problem with their development of brain organoids: they provide researchers with a working environment that resembles the actual human brain in some respects, such that findings obtained in the laboratory may be transferable to the human organism.

– Midbrain organoids as a research model for the future

– The special case of the midbrain

– How stem cells can be transformed

Mini brains decrease the amount of animal testing

JENS SCHWAMBORN: Midbrain organoids as a research model for the future

It is possible to generate human stem cells from skin samples. These can then be used to grow brain-like cells in culture. These organoids mimic the behavior of the cells in the human midbrain. This allows different kinds of cells to be created in vitro. They can exchange signals with one another and produce metabolic products that are typical of an active brain. Jens Schwamborn explains that only a small number of brain functions are available for research. This method cannot be used to build a human brain. These mini-brains have the potential to produce serious results as a test bed for active substances. This could eventually lead to the same results in the human brain.

JENS SCHWAMBORN: THE SPECIAL CASE OF THE MIDBRAIN

For Jens Schwamborn and OrganoTherapeutics (http://organo-therapeutics.com/), the midbrain represents a particularly interesting area in the human brain. The substantia-nigra, a tissue structure containing nerve cells and the neurotransmitter Dopamine, is found here. Dopamine, among other things is responsible for the functioning of the body’s movements processes. When these neurons are destroyed by Parkinson’s disease, the affected person will experience tremors or stiffness in their muscles, which are the usual symptoms.

JENS SCHWAMBORN: HOW STEM CELLS CAN BE TRANSFORMED

Neuroscientists are not allowed to extract cells from the human substantianigra. This is for ethical reasons. For this reason, Jens Schwamborn is working in particular on the generation of three-dimensional structures of the midbrain, using so-called induced

Pluripotent stem cell – These stem cells cannot form an organism, but can be transformed into any type of human cell. Brain organoids are not only useful for research in Parkinson’s disease but also can be used to study other neuron-attacking disorders. Jens Schwamborn, for instance, is currently conducting research on SARS/CoV2. Brain organoids infected by the coronavirus are subject to the most protective measures possible so active agents against this virus can be tested.

JENS SCHWAMBORN: MINI-BRAINS REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF ANIMAL TESTING

Brain organoids in neuroscience could be used to reduce animal testing over the long-term. Because they are human-derived, tissue cultures grown in vitro can be used for research and testing active substances. They also have some characteristics that are more similar to the human brain than those from laboratory animals. Jens Schwamborn explains that an active ingredient that has the desired effect in mini-brains might also work in the real human brain.

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