The ancient Japanese art of flower arranging was the inspiration for a ground-breaking new technique for creating tiny “artificial brains” that could be used to develop personalized cancer treatments.

The organoids – clusters of thousands of human brain cells – cannot perform a brain’s basic functions, much less generate thought. But they provide a far more authentic model – the first of its kind – for studying how brain tumours grow, and how they can be stopped.

Dr. Christian Naus, a Professor in the Department of Cellular and Physiological Science, who conceived the project with a Japanese company that specializes in bioprinting, shared details about the technique at November’s annual Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego. The work was selected by the conference organizers as one of its “hot topics.”

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