The human brain is the most complex of all organs. In the Knoblich lab, scientists are fascinated by the mechanisms that lead to the assembly of this fascinating biological structure. For this, we use a unique combination of model organisms ranging from insects to humans. To understand, how neural stem cells form the right neurons at the right time and how tumors form when this process goes wrong, we analyze the simple nervous system of the fruit fly Drosophila. To analyze those processes in humans, we grow human fetal brain tissue in vitro starting from pluripotent stem cells that we obtain from patients. By working with clinical research groups, we can derive 3D culture models for neuro-psychiatric disorders and analyze their developmental origin. Our unique combination of model organisms allows us to analyze human disease in a deeply mechanistic manner. Our analysis of brain development will illuminate the etiology and potential therapies for cancer, neurodegeneration, and other neurological disorders.
Keywords: stem cell, brain, organoids, cancer