Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A breakthrough technique developed by University of Oxford researchers could one day provide tailored repairs for those who suffer brain injuries. The researchers demonstrated for the first time that neural cells can be 3D printed to mimic the architecture of the cerebral cortex. These results have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

A brain © Adobe Stock

rain injuries, including those caused by trauma, stroke and surgery for brain tumours, typically result in significant damage to the cerebral cortex (the outer layer of the human brain), leading to difficulties in cognition, movement and communication. For example, each year, around 70 million people globally suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI), with 5 million of these cases being severe or fatal. Currently, there are no effective treatments for severe brain injuries, leading to serious impacts on quality of life.

Tissue regenerative therapies, especially those in which patients are given implants derived from their own stem cells, could be a promising route to treat brain injuries in the future. Up to now, however, there has been no method to ensure that implanted stem cells mimic the architecture of the brain.

In this new study, the University of Oxford researchers fabricated a two-layered brain tissue by 3D printing human neural stem cells. When implanted into mouse brain slices, the cells showed convincing structural and functional integration with the host tissue.

Oxford Martin Programme on 3D Printing for Brain Repair researchers Linna Zhou, Luana Soares, Francis Szele, Zoltán Molnár and Hagan Bayley made significant contributions to this study.

Lead author Dr Yongcheng Jin (Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford) said: 'This advance marks a significant step towards the fabrication of materials with the full structure and function of natural brain tissues. The work will provide a unique opportunity to explore the workings of the human cortex and, in the long term, it will offer hope to individuals who sustain brain injuries.'

Read the full story on the Oxford Martin School website. 

Similar stories

Novel inhaled TB vaccine

The Jenner Institute is conducting a new study, using BCG, the current licensed vaccine against tuberculosis. In this study, they will give BCG a second time to people who have already had BCG once before, and will compare whether giving it by inhalation is better at protecting people against tuberculosis than giving it into the skin