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 |


There is a lack of therapies for people with progressive MS. Currently, intense focus on the development of therapies that promote myelin (the protective sheath around nerves) repair for the treatment of progressive MS is underway. One of the major challenges in developing drugs for progressive MS is translating promising therapies from pre-clinical models to clinical use. An ongoing challenge for the field is the lack of suitable human models for testing new therapies. To bridge the gap between existing limited laboratory models and human clinical trials, new models of myelin damage and repair using human cells are crucial.  

In this project we plan to make a "brain in a dish" – a method where stem cells can be used to generate a complex 3D culture that can mimic some of the functions of a brain, including the formation of myelin that is damaged in MS. We will develop a method to use these "mini-brains" to model the myelin damage we see in MS, so that ultimately, we can use this model to test promising new treatments for progressive MS.

This will provide a critical tool to bridge the gap between mouse models and human testing, increasing the chance of success in clinical trials. 

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

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