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Gene Pathway To Grow Brain Organoids With Surface Folding Discover

First Posted: Dec 30, 2016 11:42 AM EST

The cerebral cortex's size and structure is the reason why human brains are so special and unique. However, what are the factors that drive the human cortex growth which considered as a foundation of the human's unique intellectual abilities?

According to the research published in the Cell Stem Cell journal, researchers from the Whitehead Institute have provided insights into the particular gene pathway which appears to be regulating structure, growth, and the organization of human cortex.

The study was entitled "Induction of expansion and folding in human cerebral organoids" published by Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. The team of researchers, who are the author of the study, demonstrated the 3D human cerebral organoids. It is a miniature, lab-grown version of specific brain structures which is effective in molecular, cellular, and an anatomical process of human brain development.

The researchers also assert that this study could be used to identify the cells of the brain which is affected by the Zika Virus.

 "We found that increased proliferation of neural progenitor cells (NPs) induces expansion of cortical tissue and cortical folding in human cerebral organoids. Further, we determined that deleting the PTEN gene allows increased growth factor signaling in the cell, unleashing its growth potential, and stimulating proliferation, " Yun Li, the lead author of the study said.

According to the Science Daily, the study that led to this findings supports the idea that an increase in the proliferative potential of NPs can contribute to the expansion and development of the human cerebral neocortex as well as the emergence of the surface folding.

The researchers are using the said 3D human cerebral organoid system to show the infection that Zika Virus caused to the cortical growth and folding. It shows how the Zika infection led to the widespread of apoptosis which later on severely hampered the organoid growth and surface folding.

"Although not an original goal of our study, we have demonstrated that 3D human cortical organoids can be very effective for Zika modeling -- better enabling researchers to observe how human brain tissue reacts to the infection and to test potential treatments," Yun Li added.

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