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Cells in gel 'matrix' key to 'brain in bottle' research

The key to the new 'brain in bottle' research involved nourishing immature cells in a gel-like "matrix" that allowed the complex organoid structures to develop.

These were then transferred to a spinning bioreactor which provided extra nutrients and oxygen, enabling them to grow much larger in size.

After two months of development the "mini-brains" had become globular spheres up to four millimetres in diameter.

Each one surrounded a ventricle-like inner cavity and mimicked the layered structure of a human brain growing within a developing foetus.

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'Brain in a bottle' to help beat diseases and test drugs

The goal of the 'brain in a bottle' was to produce a biological tool that can be used to investigate the workings of the brain, better understand brain diseases, and test out new drugs.

Other experts described the work as "audacious", "exciting" and "stunning".

One predicted the future creation of a simple animal-like brain that could be linked to sense organs and had the ability to learn.

Stem cell scientists grow a miniature 'brain-in-a-bottle'

A miniaturised "brain-in-a-bottle" has been grown by stem cell scientists who hope it will lead to new treatments for neurological and mental diseases.

An "organoid" showing different brain regions, all cells are in blue, neural stem cells in red, and neurons in green. Credit: Madeline A. Lancaster/PA Wire

The tiny hollow "organoids", measuring three to four millimetres across, have a structure similar to that of an immature human brain, including defined regions.

But the scientists insist they are still far from the science fiction fantasy of building a working artificial brain - or even replacement parts for damaged brains.

Dramatic stem cell research heals paralysed dog

Three years ago a Dachshund dog could not walk all when a slipped disc damaged his spinal cord and left him paraplegic. He was in a lot of pain and dragged his legs flat along the floor behind him.

But now, scientists have used a novel technique to treat him - they took special cells from his nose and injected them into his spine.The results were dramatic.

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Scientists treat damaged spinal cords

For more than a decade, experts have known that olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) might prove useful in treating damaged spinal cords.

The cells support nerve fibre growth that maintains a communication pathway between the nose and the brain.

Previous research suggests that OECs can help form a bridge between damaged and undamaged spinal cord tissue by regenerating nerve fibres.

Although the treatment had been shown to be safe in human patients, its effectiveness was unknown.

In the new trial, scientists studied 34 pet dogs that had all suffered spinal cord injuries as a result of accidents and back problems. None were injured deliberately for the sake of research.

A year or more after their injuries, the animals were unable to use their back legs to walk and incapable of feeling pain in their hindquarters.

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