Neurology Central

Cerebral organoids and brain development: how do we define cell maturity?

Arnold Kriegstein is a developmental neurobiologist at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF; CA, USA). He is also a clinical neurologist and directs the stem cell program at UCSF, which is one of the largest stem cell programs in the USA. The program covers stem cells of all organ types and diseases; however, Kriegstein’s interest lies within the brain. He is particularly interested in neurodevelopmental disorders and brain development.
In this interview, Kriegstein tells us about his work on cerebral organoids, including how we might define a cell’s maturity, and if we could ever reach a point where we have one standardized definition of maturity for organoids. He also discusses some of the challenges involved in using organoids to study brain development and how these may be overcome.

You’re presenting a talk here at FENS (7–11 July, Berlin, Germany) on the use of cerebral organoids – could you tell us more about this and why you began to use organoids in your research?

I am especially interested in the development of the cerebral cortex of the brain. In humans, this is an area that is very distinct from any other living mammal. It’s actually very different compared to the mouse, and yet, the mouse is the model that most scientists use to study normal development of the cortex, and also diseases of the cortex such as autism or schizophrenia. I think it’s going to be very difficult to make the case that one is discovering the mechanism of human disease if you are using non-human models.

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