The use of 3D culture models combined with advanced microscopy analyses will be the standard for future studies
The MIND (Multidisciplinary Investigation of Neural Disorders) facility in Utrecht at the Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, UMC Utrecht, aims at generating, analyzing and manipulating next generation human brain cultures. It has unique expertise in human iPS cells and cerebral 3D organoid culturing technology, which it combines with state-of-the-art imaging, gene manipulation techniques and brain-on-a-chip approaches for drug finding.
The MIND facility is unique worldwide and serves as a research hub in Utrecht, as it links different research facilities and initiatives and hosts a large number of local and (inter)national researchers. A wealth of information on brain disorders (e.g. ALS, stroke, schizophrenia) is accumulating from different disciplines (epidemiology, clinical genetics, neurobiology, social sciences and imaging) that needs to be translated into biological models for dissecting disease mechanisms and for setting up tractable therapy. Recent technological developments allow us to generate human neurons and glial cells from patients and healthy controls. These neurons can be grown in two-dimensional but also in three-dimensional (3D) cultures (e.g., cerebral organoids), which more closely mimics the developing brain. Furthermore, new technologies have recently become available to manipulate and study 3D neuronal cultures with advanced microscopic techniques, including light sheet imaging and genome editing of cultured cells. Together, this facility offers unique tools to enable dissection of brain disease mechanisms and development of therapeutic strategies.