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IIT Madras & MIT Scientists Grow Human Brain Tissues from a 3D Printed Bioreactor

The objective is to observe brain tissues while they grow & develop, a technology that can potentially accelerate medical & therapeutic discoveries for diseases such as cancer & neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Indian Institute of Technology Madras and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Scientists have grown human brain tissues called ‘organoids’ with help of a 3D Printed Bioreactor that they developed. 

The objective was to observe the brain tissues while they grow and develop, a technology that can potentially accelerate medical and therapeutic discoveries for diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Cell culture is one of the fundamental steps to validation of the human organ model, whether it may be a pre-clinical study for COVID-19, cancer medicine discovery or any medicine to be used on humans. There is an open challenge in growing cells for long durations and studying them in real-time to gain a better understanding of the effects of the medicine. 

The present cell culture protocols involve separate chambers for incubation and imaging, requiring that cells are physically transferred to the imaging chamber. However, this poses the risk of false results and chances for contamination.

IIT Madras and MIT Scientists came up with a novel solution, which let the cell grow uninterruptedly. In this invention, a 3D printed micro-incubator and imaging chamber was made into a single palm-sized platform, which was successfully demonstrated for long-term human brain cells culture and real-time imaging.

The findings of this research were recently published in the reputed, peer-reviewed international journal Biomicrofluidics. The Research Team included Ikram Khan (first author) and Prof. Anil Prabhakar from IIT Madras and Chloe Delepine, Hayley Tsang, Vincent Pham, and Prof. Mriganka Sur from MIT.

Prof. Anil Prabhakar is a faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras.  Ikram Khan S.I. is an alumnus of IIT Madras (MS Opto-Electronics, 2015–19) and CEO of ISMO Bio-Photonics, an IIT Madras-incubated startup working on developing products like microfluidic bio-reactors, microfluidic accessories, and fibre lasers.

This technology has been patented in India. The research team is exploring the feasibility of international collaborations. This project was taken up with the support of the Center for Computational Brain Research (CCBR) at IIT Madras for funding and Sur’s Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), U.S., which guided the researchers.


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iit madras mit Human Brain Tissues 3D Printed Bioreactor

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