March 2019 - Nerve regeneration in human-derived cells

Scientists in the UK have grown a 'mini-brain' that can grow neuronal connections and contract muscle.

This exciting early stage research from Cambridge, reported in The Guardian, sees scientists develop a mini-brain from human cells to help understand more about how the human brain and nervous system develop   Interestingly, the scientists have seen the cells make connections with nearby spinal cord and muscular tissue.

Spinal Research recently agreed funding for a similar three-year study at the University of Cambridge related to spinal cord injury. The study will create a similar mini-brain which, with the introduction of specialised cells, will closely mimic human spinal cord injury in people. This would enable researchers to both see and study the re-organisation of human-derived spinal cord neuronal circuits as they regenerate.

Dr Mark Bacon, Executive and Scientific Director at Spinal Research says “Research into nerve regeneration in the spinal cord has been in the animal model, for the first time this study will allow us to see nerve regeneration in human-derived cells in the spinal cord."

The findings from the recent study are published in Nature Neuroscience.