A team of US scientists claims to have created a 3D brain-like tissue that functions and has structural features similar to tissues in rat brain and which can survive in the lab for more than two months.
The brain-like tissue, described in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may offer new options for studying brain function, disease and trauma, and treatment, Xinhua reported.
The key to generating the tissue was the creation of a novel composite structure that consists of two biomaterials with different physical properties: a spongy scaffold made out of silk protein and a softer, collagen-based gel, researchers at the Tufts University said.
They first cut the spongy scaffold into a donut shape and populated it with rat neurons.
Then, the researchers filled the middle of the donut with the collagen-based gel, which subsequently permeated the scaffold to encourage neuron growth.
In just a few days, the neurons clustered within the pores of the scaffold, forming long-lasting networks in the gels that resembled the complex circuitry of the brain in the rat.
The researchers were able to use the tissue model to examine multiple post-injury effects, including cellular damage, electrophysiological activity and neurochemical changes.
The tissue also showed transient electrical hyperactivity consistent with post-trauma responses observed in vivo, they said.