Miniature Brain Models May Inform Alzheimer Disease Research, Clinical Trials: Yanhong Shi, PhD


The director of the division of stem cell biology research at City of Hope discussed the potential of the model to study the mechanistic causes of Alzheimer disease and to test dementia drugs currently in development.

“We believe that using this model, we will be able to review pathological mechanisms underlying Alzheimer disease that were not possible to uncover using the previous animal models or familial AD models. Also, this model will give us a powerful tool to test drugs for AD prior to them proceeding to clinical trials.” 

Researchers at City of Hope have developed a miniature brain platform to study Alzheimer disease (AD), with the potential to evaluate new treatment options and explore the disease’s pathological mechanisms. Yanhong Shi, PhD, Herbert Horvitz professor in neuroscience and director, division of stem cell biology research, Department of Developmental and Stem Cell Biology, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, spoke with NeurologyLive about the model and its anticipated use in clinical trials. 

Shi spoke specifically on the effect the mini brain organoid could have on high costs associated with drug development, as the mini brain model will allow experts to assess efficacy and neurotoxicity prior to moving to human trials. Researchers have so far modeled sporadic AD using human induced pluripotent stem cell technology, then tested for biomarkers such as synaptic density, neural network activity, and levels of Aβ and tau tangles. 

City of Hope researchers develop miniature brain models to study the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and to test drugs in development. News release. City of Hope. August 2, 2021. 
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