Brain Canada Brain Canada
FR Donate

The Applied Organoid Core (ApOC): a organoid production platform for modelling human brain development and disease

Principal Investigator:
  • Liliana Attisano, University of Toronto
Team Members:
  • Jeff Wrana, Sinai Health System, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute
  • Laurence Pelletier, Sinai Health System, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute
  • Krembil Foundation

Project Overview

Current preclinical models to address neurological disorders fail to accurately portray human physiology. First, traditional tissue culture in which neuronal cells are grown in monolayer do not recapitulate the complex heterogeneity and function of the human brain. Second, animal models such as rodents lack many specific biological features unique to human brain development. Because these models are inaccurate they often fail to predict drug responses in humans, which explains why they fail in clinical trials. To address this, we are seeking support from Brain Canada and the Krembil Foundation to establish a research platform that will provide access to the neuroscience research community next generation preclinical models of human neurological diseases. To do this, we will link brain tissue derived from human stem cells to living blood vessels and deliver nutrients and drugs through them. Strikingly, these artificial “mini-brains” mimic brain physiology in terms of morphology and function, and serve as a powerful platform for drug testing. For this, we have built a team of researchers in health research, cellular imaging, genomics and industry that will harness this platform to develop sophisticated models of the brain to monitor brain development and drug responses with unprecedented detail. With our expertise, we are uniquely poised to deploy/manage this platform, making it accessible to neuroscientist researchers across Canada and to train the next generation of scientists. This platform will help improve preclinical drug testing efficiency in Canada and also contribute to the global drug discovery pipelines thereby significantly improving clinical outcomes of neuropathies.