World’s First 3D-Printed Brain Acts Like Human Tissue

Scientists have developed a novel 3D-printing technique that can create brain tissue that mimics the structure and function of human brain tissue. This breakthrough could revolutionize the study of neurological disorders and treatments.


The human brain is one of the most complex and mysterious organs in the body. It is composed of billions of neurons and glial cells that communicate with each other through electrical and chemical signals. The brain is responsible for various cognitive, emotional, sensory and motor functions, as well as regulating vital processes such as breathing, heartbeat and blood pressure.

However, the brain is also vulnerable to various diseases and disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, epilepsy, autism and schizophrenia. These conditions affect millions of people worldwide and pose significant challenges for diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

One of the main obstacles in studying the brain is the lack of suitable models that can accurately replicate its structure and function. Current methods include using animal models, human brain organoids, or slices of post-mortem human brain tissue. However, these models have limitations in terms of ethical issues, scalability, reproducibility, complexity and relevance to human physiology.

Novel 3D-printing technique

To overcome these challenges, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has developed a novel 3D-printing technique that can create brain tissue that mimics the structure and function of human brain tissue. Their method was published in the journal Cell Stem Cell on February 1, 2024.

The researchers used induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which are adult cells that can be reprogrammed to become any type of cell in the body. They differentiated the iPSCs into neurons and glial cells, which are the main cell types in the brain. They then used a horizontal layering approach to print these cells in a soft bio-ink gel that allowed them to grow and interconnect with each other.

The resulting 3D-printed brain tissue was able to form networks and communicate through neurotransmitters, similar to human brain interactions. The researchers were able to precisely control the cell types and arrangements in the printed tissue, creating different regions of the brain such as the cerebral cortex and the striatum. They also added support cells such as astrocytes and microglia to enhance the functionality of the printed tissue.

Implications and applications

The 3D-printed brain tissue offers several advantages over existing models. It is more accessible, scalable, reproducible and customizable than animal models or organoids. It is more complex, realistic and relevant than brain slices or cell cultures. It also enables the study of human-specific features and diseases that are not present or well-represented in other species.

The researchers envision various applications for their 3D-printed brain tissue. They plan to use it to study how different parts of the brain communicate with each other in health and disease. They also hope to use it to test new drugs and therapies for neurological disorders, as well as to understand how environmental factors affect brain development and function.

The 3D-printed brain tissue could also be used to create personalized models of individual patients’ brains, based on their genetic and epigenetic profiles. This could help to identify biomarkers, predict outcomes, optimize treatments and monitor responses for various neurological conditions.


The development of the world’s first 3D-printed brain tissue that acts like human tissue is a major milestone in neuroscience research. It opens up new possibilities for understanding the mysteries of the human brain and finding solutions for its disorders. The researchers hope that their technique will inspire more innovations and collaborations in this field.

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