The human brain sets us apart as a species, yet how it develops and functions differently to that of other mammals is still largely unclear. This also makes it difficult to understand how disorders of the brain arise, and therefore how to treat them. To understand such a complex organ, we have developed cerebral organoids, or brain organoids, 3D brain tissues made from stem cells that mimic the fetal brain. Such organoids are allowing us to tackle questions previously impossible with more traditional approaches. Indeed, our recent findings provide insight into various factors that influence the developing brain, and how the human brain becomes so uniquely large enabling our special cognitive abilities.
Madeline Lancaster is an American developmental biologist studying neurological development and diseases of the brain. Lancaster is a group leader at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK.
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