Research Led by Our Partner Shows that Organ-Chips Improve Maturity of Stem Cell-Derived Neurons

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Future applications of this collaborative research between Cedars-Sinai and Emulate include studying neuronal development and neurodegenerative diseases

In order to understand the cause of neurodegenerative diseases — and to develop drugs to treat them — researchers must be able to create models of the brain and of the central nervous system (CNS) that are human-relevant.

These models require human cells, and the cells of an individual who suffers from a neurodegenerative disease will provide more accurate information about the particular characteristics of that individual’s disease.

Since it’s not practical to biopsy cells of the brain and CNS, researchers at Cedars-Sinai are using their expertise with induced pluripotent stem cells to create patient-specific cells with this non-invasive technique.

In a recent paper published in Stem Cell Reports, researchers at Cedars-Sinai showed how culturing stem cell-derived neurons together with brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) in our Organ-Chips can lead to the development of neurons that feature characteristics of mature, adult cells. The research was led by Sam Sances of Cedars-Sinai.

Layers of spinal motor neuron cells (top, in blue) and capillary cells (bottom, in red) converge inside an Organ-Chip. Neurons and capillary cells interact along the length of the chip. The image was produced using a confocal microscope; colors were generated by staining with fluorescent antibodies. Credit: Cedars-Sinai

Layers of spinal motor neuron cells (top, in blue) and capillary cells (bottom, in red) converge inside an Organ-Chip. Neurons and capillary cells interact along the length of the chip. The image was produced using a confocal microscope; colors were generated by staining with fluorescent antibodies. Credit: Cedars-Sinai

This work — which was jointly conducted by scientists at Cedars-Sinai and members of our biology and engineering teams — is an example of the collaborative research that happens within our community. And it may help researchers gain a better understanding of how neurodegenerative diseases develop.

The research is part of the Patient-on-a-Chip program, which has been created to help clinicians predict which disease treatments would be most effective based on a patient’s genetic makeup and disease variant. This project is pioneering a new approach to precision medicine for improving patient care and health.


Related Info

— Press release at Cedars-Sinai’s website

— Paper in Stem Cell Reports

— More about our Patient-on-a-Chip program