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Brains-in-a-Dish that Mimic the Major Pathological Features of Parkinson’s Disease

A team of researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) and Duke-NUS Medical School created miniature brains that mimic the major pathological features of Parkinson’s disease.

The scientists used human midbrain-like organoids (hMLOs) generated from human pluripotent stem cells carrying glucocerebrosidase gene (GBA1) and α-synuclein (α-syn; SNCA) perturbations to investigate genotype-to-phenotype relationships in Parkinson disease, with the particular aim of recapitulating α-syn– and Lewy body–related pathologies and the process of neurodegeneration in the hMLO model.


In this study, scientists were able to grow organoids with neurons that showed both Lewy bodies and the progressive loss of dopamine-producing neurons. Opening the door for recreating major pathological features of Parkinson’s disease in a lab-grown, human mini-brain, helping researchers to explore new treatments. This is the first time that Lewy bodies, a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease in patients’ brains, have been produced in the laboratory, offering new insights into the disease.



Jo, Junghyun, et al. "Lewy‐body Like Inclusions in Human Midbrain Organoid Carrying Glucocerebrosidase and Alpha Synuclein Mutations." Annals of neurology (2021).

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