A brain in a dish: Developing a sophisticated system to test MS treatments

Michele Binder

Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

| A cure via repair and regeneration | Neurobiology | Incubator | 2022 | Investigator Led Research |


The lack of therapies for individuals with progressive MS remains a challenge. Currently, there's a concentrated effort on developing treatments that facilitate myelin repair—the protective sheath around nerves—to address progressive MS. However, a significant obstacle lies in translating promising therapies from laboratory models to clinical application. Another hurdle is the absence of suitable human models for testing new treatments.

To address these gaps, Michele Binder and her team aim to create a "brain in a dish" (brain organoids) using stem cells, forming a complex 3D culture mimicking some brain functions, including myelin formation damaged in MS. The goal is to establish a method using these "mini-brains" to replicate MS-related myelin damage. Ultimately, this model will serve as a testing ground for new treatments for progressive MS.

This innovative approach is pivotal in bridging the gap between laboratory models and human trials, enhancing the prospects of success in a clinical setting.

Project Outcomes

Michele Binder and her team have achieved significant milestones in replicating and studying myelin damage, a hallmark of MS, using advanced techniques. They have successfully created ‘mini-brains’ and have established methods to myelinate and induce demyelination in these brain organoids. By incorporating important brain immune cells known as microglia into these structures, they've replicated demyelination induction using lysolecithin, an agent commonly used in demyelinating laboratory models. This discovery demonstrates a significant breakthrough in understanding the progression of MS.

The larger context here is the pressing need for treatments targeting progressive MS, which lacks effective therapies. Bridging the gap between laboratory models and human trials is important, and this project addresses this.

Ultimately, this innovative organoid model holds promise as a platform to test and develop new treatments for progressive MS, potentially revolutionising therapeutic approaches by providing a more accurate human-based testing environment.

Updated: 31 March 2023

Updated: 14 February, 2022

Stages of the research process

Fundamental laboratory

Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 10+ years

Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.

Lab to clinic timeline: 5+ years
Clinical Studies
and Clinical Trials

Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 1-5 years



Grant Awarded

  • Incubator Grant

Total Funding

  • $25,000


  • 1 year

Funding Partner

Read More

Newsletter subscription

  • Enter your details

A brain in a dish: Developing a sophisticated system to test MS treatments