‘Minibrains’ In A Dish Shed A Little Light On Autism And Epilepsy
Tiny, 3-D clusters of human brain cells grown in a petri dish are providing hints about the origins of disorders like autism and epilepsy.
An experiment using these cell clusters — which are only about the size of the head of a pin — found that a genetic mutation associated with both autism and epilepsy kept developing cells from migrating normally from one cluster of brain cells to another, researchers report in the journal Nature.
“They were sort of left behind,” says Dr. Sergiu Pasca, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford. And that type of delay could be enough to disrupt the precise timing required for an actual brain to develop normally, he says.