Creating 3-D Mini Brains

Researchers at the Houston Methodist Research Institute are making 3-D mini brains from human stem cells. They hope that such models can help with research on repairing the nervous system after injury or disease of the brain. The researchers have developed a way to reduce the time required to grow these brain models which will allow for faster testing of drugs and study of disease-causing mutations. For the first time when the researchers put the cells together, they dramatically changed their morphological complexity, size, and shape. They believe they look like cells you would see in the human brain. Cells traditionally grown in lab cultures are put on a flat petri dish where they are often manipulated and thus their interactions are disturbed. The form, structure, and developmental growth of the brain’s cells are thus not able to be reproduced … Read more

Why is Pain in the Face and Head Worse than the Rest of the Body?

Researchers have found why pain from the head and face can be more disruptive, and emotionally draining than pain in other parts of the body. The researchers found that sensory neurons from the head and face are wired directly into the brain’s principal emotional signaling hubs, while sensory neurons from elsewhere in the body are connected only indirectly to this hub. People consistently rate pain of the head and face as more disruptive and emotionally draining than pain in other parts of the body. The results may help lead toward more effective treatments for pain mediated by the craniofacial nerve, including chronic headaches and neuropathic face pain. Usually doctors focus on treating the sensation of pain, but this work demonstrates that doctors need to also treat the emotional aspects of pain. Pain signals from the head and face compared to those … Read more