Human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) can differentiate into any cell type within the human body. They have been used to generate various organoid models that mimic interest organs, such as the brain for development and disease models. The cerebellum (small brain) is located at the back of the brain and controls body movement and posture. An atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (ATRT) is a lethal pediatric brain cancer that mainly originates from the cerebellum. Children under age three have an aggressive phenotype of ATRT with a low overall survival rate. Currently, there is no systematic and no effective treatment for ATRT, and therefore, a cancerous model is necessary for improving the understanding of the cancer mechanism and treatment.
HiPSCs were used to derived cerebellar-like organoids that contain the cerebellar-specific cells. The organoid cells were allowed to attach to a coated surface before staining for different neuronal markers. This image shows that the cells showed neuronal axons (green) and were positive for glutamate (red). Glutamate is one of the neurotransmitters responsible for over 90 percent of neuronal communication within the brain. Our organoid model can generate the ATRT cancerous model, hence improving the understanding and therapeutic evaluation for ATRT. Also, our model can be used to create other disease models such as medulloblastoma (another cancer type that mainly originates from the cerebellum) and ataxia (a degenerative neuronal disease that occurs in the cerebellum).