What is it about?

Embryonic development of the brain is controlled by genes. One such gene, called Pax6, acts like a master-regulator, giving instructions to brain cells to tell them what to do. When the Pax6 gene doesn't work properly, brain cells get the wrong instructions, and the brain can't develop normally. For many years, scientists trying to understand how Pax6 works have used mice in their studies. In this paper, we have shown that we can grow embryonic brain-like tissue from stem cells (either with or without normal Pax6) and shown that Pax6 behaves in the same way in the stem cell-derived brain tissue as it does in embryonic brains, allowing us to use stem cells in place of mice in future experiments.

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Why is it important?

Understanding how brains develop in embryos is important because it allows us to understand how some Neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders can arise. By understanding how they arise, this can help us to make more accurate diagnoses and, ultimately, devise therapies. Researchers interested in understanding how the brain develops in embryos have used mice in their experiments for many years. Our work shows that stem cells can be used instead, hopefully leading to a significant decrease in the numbers of mice used in such experiments in future.

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This page is a summary of: Pax6 mutant cerebral organoids partially recapitulate phenotypes of Pax6 mutant mouse strains, PLoS ONE, November 2022, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0278147.
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