An organoid is a miniaturized and simplified version of an organ produced in vitro in three dimensions that shows realistic micro-anatomy. They are derived from one or a few cells from a tissue, embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells, which can self-organize in three-dimensional culture owing to their self-renewal and differentiation capacities. The technique for growing organoids has rapidly improved since the early 2010s, and it was named by The Scientist as one of the biggest scientific advancements of 2013 1).

Organoids with region-specific architecture could facilitate the repair of injuries of the central nervous system. Xu et al. showed that human astrocytes can be directly reprogrammed into early neuroectodermal cells via the overexpression of OCT4, the suppression of p53 and the provision of the small molecules CHIR99021, SB431542, RepSox and Y27632. They also report that the activation of signalling mediated by fibroblast growth factor, sonic hedgehog and bone morphogenetic protein 4 in the reprogrammed cells induces them to form spinal-cord organoids with functional neurons specific to the dorsal and ventral domains. In mice with complete spinal-cord injury, organoids transplanted into the lesion differentiated into spinal-cord neurons, which migrated and formed synapses with host neurons. The direct reprogramming of human astrocytes into neurons may pave the way for in vivo neural organogenesis from endogenous astrocytes for the repair of injuries to the central nervous system 2).

see Cerebral organoid.

Grens, Kerry (December 24, 2013). “2013's Big Advances in Science”. The Scientist. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
Xu J, Fang S, Deng S, Li H, Lin X, Huang Y, Chung S, Shu Y, Shao Z. Generation of neural organoids for spinal-cord regeneration via the direct reprogramming of human astrocytes. Nat Biomed Eng. 2022 Nov 24. doi: 10.1038/s41551-022-00963-6. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36424465.
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