3D Brain Tissue Model Created
Even though everybody has a brain (though we may not all use them) it is one of the least understood organs to the human body. We simply do not know how it responds to many stimuli and finding out is not easy to do in a living person. Researchers at Tufts University have recently created a 3D model of brain tissue that could possibly be used for the very research it is hard or impossible to do safely.
The model is a modular design comprised of a scaffold of cast silk protein, a collagen gel matrix, and cortical neurons from rats. The silk began as disks that had a hole punched in them to form a doughnut, and then neurons were seeded into each doughnut before being stacked to resemble the layers of the neocortex. The assembly was then immersed in the collagen gel, which allowed axons to connect the neurons between the layers. The resulting model had the structural support for the network connectivity needed for brain activity and was viable for an impressive nine weeks.
One of the tests the researchers put the model through was dropping a weight on it. The model reacted to the trauma similar to how actual brain cells do, by releasing a neurotransmitter associated with brain damage and even electrical hyperactivity, like what is observed in brain cells after trauma.
Source: Tufts University