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How Growing a Copy of Your Brain in a Petri Dish Could be a Routine Part of Your Prescription

While there are many drugs available to treat all kinds of psychological conditions, prescribing the most appropriate medication for each patient can sometimes prove tricky. Although one particular drug can work perfectly for one individual, it might not work so well for another, not to mention that the way it works can modify over time as the body adapts. However, all this is set to change as researchers have perfected the technique of growing tiny versions of cerebral cortices in a petri dish. This means that it would be possible to test how a particular drug would work on a individual’s brain prior to prescribing medication, giving doctors the ability to prescribe the drug that would work best for that particular patient.

The researchers were able to grow a structure very similar to that of the brain

This new study, which was published in the journal Nature Methods, explains how the researchers were able to use the stem cells from a patient’s skin to recreate a three-dimensional complex of neurons and supporting glial cells, that was very similar to the structure of the brain. Previously, while scientists were able to grow stem cells into neurons, testing drugs on neurons only didn’t give the necessary information about how certain drugs would affect the circuitry of the brain. The effect on the brain’s circuitry is key, as a number of psychiatric conditions are caused by a disruption to the development of brain’s circuits.

It’s hoped that we’ll be able to tailor medication to each individual

The process used by the researches required fewer steps than previous methods and it’s hoped that it may also be used in the future for brain slicing, which will allow scientists to gain a better understanding of the effects of these circuitry disorders on the brain. While the researchers do admit that these petri dish cortices are nowhere near as complex as real human brains and so, at the moment, are limited in the amount of information they can give us about circuitry disorders, it’s hoped that they will be able to be used to tailor psychology medication to individuals in the future.

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