• Neuroscientists rarely get the opportunity to study the human brain directly, and so work on cells or tissue slices that have been dissected from animals and grown in Petri dishes. This option is several limited in that they do not resemble the complex three-dimensional structure of the brain.

  • To solve this, the researchers harvested immature cortical neurons from embryonic mice and encapsulated them within a natural gellan gum polymer hydrogel to create a ‘bio-ink’ cell suspension. The team then fabricated the brain tissue with a simple handheld 3D printer, then used scanning electron microscopy to probe the internal structure of the printed structures, and fluorescent antibody staining combined with confocal microscopy to examine the cells within them.

  • Recently several groups have succeeded in growing artificial miniature models of the brain called cerebral organoids, but these can only grow to about 4mm in diameter and do not lend themselves to being examined in any detail.

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