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Oxford Researchers Finds a Way for Potential Brain Injury Repairs with 3D-Printed Neural Cells

Written by : Aishwarya Sarthe

October 4, 2023

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The novel method involves 3D printing neural cells to replicate the intricate architecture of the cerebral cortex, as disclosed in their publication in the journal Nature Communications.

Researchers from the University of Oxford have come up with a potential treatment for brain injuries. The team at the University of Oxford has demonstrated the fabrication of a two-layered brain tissue by 3D printing human neural stem cells. 

When implanted into mouse brain slices, the implanted cells displayed structural and functional integration with the host tissue.

Their innovative technique involves 3D printing neural cells to mimic the architecture of the cerebral cortex, showcasing a promising avenue for personalised repairs for those affected by brain injuries. 

The study has been recently published in the esteemed scientific journal, Nature Communications.

Talking about the same, lead author Dr Yongcheng Jin explained, "This advance marks a significant step towards the fabrication of materials with the full structure and function of natural brain tissues." 

The success of this technique offers hope for individuals who sustain brain injuries by potentially providing tailored repairs, mimicking the structure and functionality of the human cortex.

The cortical structure was created using human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), ensuring compatibility and reducing the risk of immune response. The hiPSCs were then differentiated into neural progenitor cells for the different layers of the cerebral cortex. 

These cells were then suspended in a solution to generate 'bioinks' for 3D printing, resulting in a two-layered structure. The printed tissues maintained cellular architecture for weeks and demonstrated strong integration when implanted into mouse brain slices.

Senior author Dr Linna Zhou, stated, "Our droplet printing technique provides a means to engineer living 3D tissues with desired architectures, bringing us closer to creating personalized implantation treatments for brain injury."

The researchers are now focused on refining the droplet printing technique to create more complex multi-layered cerebral cortex tissues that closely mimic the human brain's architecture. Besides potential applications in brain injury repair, these engineered tissues may be useful in drug evaluation, brain development studies, and our understanding of cognition.

Brain injuries stemming from various causes such as trauma, stroke, or brain tumor surgeries often inflict severe damage to the cerebral cortex, resulting in cognitive, motor, and communication challenges. 

Regrettably, there are currently no highly effective treatments for severe brain injuries, significantly impacting the affected individuals' quality of life.


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