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A European university just landed $3.3M to 3D print artificial brains for research

Meso-Brain sounds a bit like a soup you really don’t want to order. In fact, it’s an intriguing new project taking place at Aston University in the U.K., which just received 3.3 million euros in funding from the European Commission’s Future and Emerging Technology (FET) scheme.

Bringing together top researchers in the fields of photonics, imaging, biology, and neuroscience, the goal of the innovative project is to attempt to replicate the brain’s neural structures using 3D nanoprinting technology.

“The Meso-Brain project will use recently-developed 3D laser nano-printing technology to support one of the major aims of neuroscience: to form neural networks with specific biological architectures,” Professor Edik Rafailov told Digital Trends. “If we would be able to use 3D nano-printing to improve the connection of neurons in an area of the brain which has been damaged, we will be in a position to develop much more effective ways to treat those with dementia or brain injuries.”

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The core technology involved with the project involves pluripotent stem cells, which are cells taken from tissues and then genetically modified to behave like an embryonic stem cell. These cells can then be 3D-printed to create precise neural networks according to brain architectures. One day, the results could help repair damaged parts of the brain in those individuals suffering from different types of brain trauma or neurological disorder.

In addition to Aston University, Meso-Brain will also boast contributions from Axol Bioscience Ltd., Laser Zentrum Hannover, The Institute of Photonic Sciences, the University of Barcelona, and Kite Innovations.

Meso-Brain isn’t the only high-profile, publicly funded project designed to reverse-engineer the human brain in recent times. There has also been the United States’ MICrONS project (dedicated to building more biofidelic algorithms) and the European Commission’s Human Brain Project (intended to build a complete computer simulation of the human brain over a ten-year period), among others.

Taken together, we should be looking for some invaluable brain-related insights over the coming years.