Weekly reads: new Sergiu Pasca pub, CRISPR chicken, human gene count update, stem cells in China

Most of us have heard of organoids but what about the related model called an “assembloid”, which is a term growing in use including from organoid researcher Sergiu Pasca of Stanford?

Before we jump into that, be sure to enter The Niche stem cell image contest for your chance to win $100 or some swag.

Sergiu Pasca, assembloid
Sergiu Pasca, MD is doing pioneering assembloid research. From Stanford, Pasca “is pioneering the culturing of cells to make model of parts of the brain. (Timothy Archibald photo) For Stanford Medicine magazine issue, “Molecules of life: Understanding the world within us” 2022.”

Assembloid definition

An assembloid is a conglomeration of organoids. In a review of last year in Development, Sergiu Pasca gave readers this definition:

“Assembloids are self-organizing 3D cellular systems that result from the integration of multiple organoids or the combination of organoids with missing cell types or primary tissue explants.”

The idea is you can have a 3D structure that spans tissues of multiple regions or identities. What is an example of an assembloid? Let’s dive into a new paper by Pasca to talk more about this.

New Sergiu Pasca paper

Assembloid CRISPR screens reveal impact of disease genes in human neurodevelopment, Nature. This pub reports a directed screen for ASD-related genes, “Here we integrate assembloids with CRISPR screening to investigate the involvement of 425 NDD genes in human interneuron development.” They didn’t euse typical brain organoids. Rather they used assembloids made by taking very specific types of brain organoids “integrated with human cortical organoids (hCO) to form human forebrain assembloids (hFA). You get a defined, large span of brain tissues this way. The work helps provide new avenues for figuring out genetic contributions to ASD.

So could we consider assembloids to just be more complex organoids? What do you think?

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