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Neurovascular Tissues/Organoids

  • 28 Feb 2024
  • 4 min read

Source: PIB

Why in News?

Recently, researchers at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh, have developed a groundbreaking prototype model for generating neurovascular organoids (NVOEs) from autologous blood, representing a novel approach to generating neurovascular tissues.

  • These innovative NVOEs hold the key to transforming our understanding of brain function and neurological diseases.

What are the Key Highlights of the Research?

  • Addressing Challenges in Neural Organoid Development:
    • Traditional neural organoids lack vascularization, limiting their utility in modelling brain activity and investigating neurological diseases.
      • Vascularization is the process of growing blood vessels into a tissue to improve oxygen and nutrient supply.
    • Previous approaches, such as co-culturing blood vessel organoids with cerebral organoids, proved ineffective due to the absence of active blood flow and are labour-intensive and not cost-effective.
  • Neurovascular Tissues/Organoids:
    • PGIMER researchers have introduced a prototype for establishing self-organizing NVOEs entirely from autologous blood, without genetic manipulation or morphogen supplementation.
      • Autologous blood is a blood donation that an individual gives for their own use, for example, before surgery.
    • This approach produces functional vascularized embryoids on their own and doesn't need any special culture conditions, making it cost-efficient and accessible.
      • The researchers verified that these neurovascular organoids have working blood vessels by detecting signals from haemoglobin using a method called BOLD (Blood-Oxygen-Level-Dependent) imaging.
        • BOLD imaging is a technique that uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure brain activity.
  • Implications for Neuroscience:
    • These organoids have broad implications for studying neurological diseases, regenerating nerves, and developing treatments for tumours and autoimmune conditions.
    • These models help researchers understand the genetic causes of hearing loss and language challenges in children with early-onset Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL).
      • They study children with additional conditions like autism or intellectual disability, aiming to improve communication outcomes. By studying NVOEs, researchers can investigate how altered brain activity affects sensory processing.
        • Although functional MRI (fMRI) is a useful tool for monitoring brain activity, it's not suitable for these children due to their cochlear implants or hyperactivity.
  • Future Applications:
    • The prototype holds the potential for developing patient-specific embryoid models for congenital neurosensory, neurodevelopmental, and neurodegenerative diseases.
    • It can aid in deciphering genetics and neural circuits, testing drugs, and identifying novel biomarkers for early neurological diseases, ushering in a new era of personalised medicine in neuroscience.

Neural Organoids

  • Neural organoids, also known as cerebral organoids, are human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs)-derived 3D in vitro culture systems that recapitulate the developmental processes and organisation of the developing human brain.
    • These provide a physiologically relevant in vitro 3D brain model for the study of neurological development and disease processes that are unique to the human nervous system.
  • They have important applications in studying human brain development and neurological disorders such as schizophrenia.
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