Borrowing from microfabrication techniques used in the semiconductor industry, MIT and Harvard Medical School (HMS) engineers have developed a simple and inexpensive way to create three-dimensional brain tissues in a lab dish. The new technique yields tissue constructs that closely mimic the cellular composition of those in the living brain, allowing scientists to study how neurons form connections and to predict how cells from individual patients might respond to different drugs. The work also paves the way for developing bioengineered implants to replace damaged tissue for organ systems, according to the researchers.
Demirci and Ed Boyden, associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at MIT’s Media Lab and McGovern Institute, are senior authors of a paper describing the new technique, which appears in the Nov. 27 online edition of the journal Advanced Materials. The paper’s lead author is Umut Gurkan, a postdoc at HST, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Other authors of the paper are Yantao Fan, a visiting graduate student at HMS and HST; Feng Xu and Emel Sokullu Urkac, postdocs at HMS and HST; Gunes Parlakgul, a visiting medical student at HMS and HST; MIT graduate students Jacob Bernstein (former Hugh Hampton Young fellow) and Burcu Erkmen; and Wangli Xing, a professor at Tsinghua University. Read the rest of the article in MIT Media Relations.