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With mini-vessels, mini-brains expand research potential

National Science Foundation-funded scientists have recently made a wondrous variety of mini-brains--3-D cultures of neural cells that model basic properties of living brains--but a new finding could add to the field’s growing excitement in an entirely new “vein”: These mini-brains now grow blood vessels, too. The networks of capillaries within the little balls of nervous system cells could enable new kinds of large-scale lab investigations into diseases, such as stroke or concussion, where the interaction between the brain and its circulatory system is paramount, the researchers say. More fundamentally, vasculature makes mini-brains more realistic models of natural noggins.

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