Monday, October 9, 2023

Promising Brain Assembloids Advance Genetic Understanding of Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Assembloids and Neurological Medical Treatment

       Dr. Sergiu Pasca, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, recently published research that advances the field of neuroscience and psychiatry immensely. Previously, much of the neurological information regarding conditions such as autism, epilepsy, and schizophrenia, were known, but directions for treatment have been unclear and also unspecific to neural pathways and genetic causes. Thus, Dr. Pasca's research unlocked promising details into the world of psychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorder treatment. He created brain organoids or "assembloids" as they are referred to, using stem cells to grow nervous system models similar to a brain, in which they used CRISPR gene editing techniques to target interneurons and distinguish the roles they play in various neural networks. An example of this would be which neurotransmitters are involved or inhibited (excitatory vs inhibitory), and what this could mean for psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders in addition to their treatment. As a result, this use of an assembloid is quite promising for medical treatments going forward, due to a particularly useful model.

      I really liked this article, and thought it was fascinating to see the overlap of cell cultures and genetic techniques using CRISPR gene editing. I also believe that from a medical standpoint, this is quite advanced, especially because there is so much we do not know about neurological conditions such as autism and schizophrenia, which has created a lot of stigma. I would hope that further research in treatments for these conditions could help diminish the stigma surrounding them, but also because treatments can improve the quality of life for people, especially in a neurological sense. I also enjoyed seeing the implications of genetics in neuroscience research because neuroscience is something I particularly enjoy learning about. The brain is such a fascinating organ and any new advancements about its function are always pleasant to read about, especially when it further applies to medicine, as that is the field I hope to join after Stockton!


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