Researchers have figured out how to keep brain and nerve tissue alive outside the body for several weeks
02/13/2019 // Ralph Flores // Views

Researchers at University of Tübingen have cracked open new possibilities in brain tissue research by becoming the first team to successfully keep human brain tissue alive for weeks.

A key factor in understanding the breakthrough is the utilization of cerebrospinal fluid to cultivate the tissue in the study. After testing, it was noted that the tissue cultures that were cultivated in the cerebrospinal culture were healthy and were still functional after being subjected to three weeks outside the body and inside a petri dish. This is very different from previous attempts to keep parts of the brain using a standard culture solution, which was found to be incompatible with human tissue.

This is one of the reasons why studies have typically used animals in previous experiments and tests. With the new procedure, scientists can expand their range and choices when conducting tests on human brain cells.

That is one motivation behind why analysts regularly fall back on creature tests. The researchers say the new strategy grows the scope of choices open for completing tests on human cerebrum cells. For example, it streamlines tests to see if cerebrum tissue can endure new medications.

“The human brain appears to have a very low tolerance for cultivation outside the human body,” says Dr. Henner Koch, one of the co-authors of the study. Currently, it has not yet been determined which substances that are found in the human cerebrospinal tissue are key to the survival of nerve tissues in the brain. Researchers say that this will be a point that will be explored in future analyses.


However, the new procedure sheds light on some questions regarding human brain tissue experiments which were previously conducted on animals. Consequently, researchers will have the capability to test the effects directly using brain tissue that is cultured on petri dishes. One of the fields that may utilize this is pharmaceutical research, as testing on actual brain cells will improve the margin of risk. New research could veer away from animals to more accurate results, since there are results of animal testing that are not compatible to humans.

Another beneficiary of this breakthrough is genetics. With this method, it will be easier and simpler to understand research genetic mutations that are linked with disorders of the human nervous system.

The new method will likewise make it simpler to inquire about hereditary changes related with human sensory system issue. (Related: Network Spinal Analysis - Communicate with the nervous system to relieve tension.)

“The method enables us to introduce a mutation into the brain cells and to investigate its effect on the tissue as a whole,” says lead author Dr. Niklas Schwarz. “Even though many neurological disorders can be studied using animal models - it is often uncertain that the results can be transposed to human brain cells.” With the breakthrough, researchers hope that this will significantly reduce the number of animals that are used in experiments.

Still, there won’t be an increased demand for live brains anytime soon. Researchers can only utilize tissue that has already been excised as part of necessary brain surgeries. A good example of this is the brain part that is removed when a patient with epilepsy has received damage to the brain that has to be removed. Of course, researchers reported that they will only take brains – with consent.

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