The human brain is the most complex of all organs. In the Knoblich lab, we are fascinated by the mechanisms behind its assembly and function, and study them using a unique combination of model organisms ranging from insects to humans. So far, analysis of the simple nervous system of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has allowed us to understand how neural stem cells divide and differentiate to generate diverse neurons, as well as how defects in these processes can cause tumor formation. To analyze these events directly in human brain tissue, we have recently developed the cerebral organoid system that generates human fetal brain-like tissue from pluripotent stem cells in vitro. This system allows us, in collaboration with clinical research groups, to derive three-dimensional culture models for neuro-psychiatric disorders and analyze their developmental origin in a deeply mechanistic manner. Our analysis of brain development will illuminate the causes behind, and potential therapies for various neurodevelopmental and neurological disorders.
Keywords: stem cell, brain, organoids, neurogenesis, neurons