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Pioneering Brain Model: A Beacon of Hope for Parkinson's Treatment

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In an era where cutting-edge research is shaping the future of medicine, an international collaboration led by DTU researchers has birthed a promising new invention: a brain model to replicate the part of the brain affected by Parkinson's disease. With the potential to develop into a groundbreaking implant, this model heralds a new dawn for Parkinson's treatment.

A Glimpse into the Brain Model:

Funded by the EU through the OpenMIND project, this model is constructed from tiny portions of brain tissue cultivated from stem cells. Not just any stem cells, but pluripotent stem cells derived from artificially inseminated eggs, capable of unlimited self-renewal. It primarily mirrors the nigrostriatal pathway, the dopamine regulating part of the brain that malfunctions in Parkinson's patients.

A Game Changer for Treatment:

Why is this model groundbreaking? Firstly, it provides a safer platform to explore and refine treatments without resorting to biopsies that could harm the brain. This offers an avenue to test innovative treatments like cell replacement therapy, a procedure where stem cells replace damaged dopamine-producing cells, a treatment method that saw its first patient undergo the procedure in Sweden in February 2023.

Optic Cable: The Brain Model’s Heartbeat:

The utilization of light-sensitive pluripotent stem cells offers a unique way to study Parkinson's mechanisms. The introduction of an optic cable, crafted from a combination of expertise from DTU, Lund University, and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, makes this possible. This optic cable is remarkable not just because it can initiate dopamine release, but also because it's capable of measuring it simultaneously.

Towards a Futuristic Implant:

The optic cable's design has an added advantage. Its charred surface allows stem cells to grow and evolve into dopamine-producing cells. With the aid of lasers creating notches in the cable, light can stimulate dopamine release. This paves the way for an implantable technology that can specifically target the affected brain region in Parkinson’s patients, minimizing side effects seen in oral medications. Preliminary prototypes are ready, setting the stage for animal testing.

Remote-Controlled Treatment:

Adding another layer of innovation, a remote control is in the works. This device would enable patients to trigger the implant, releasing dopamine and also gauging its amount. This could revolutionize patient experience, providing real-time relief during symptomatic episodes. However, the researchers are cognizant of the challenges, including ensuring patients don't overstimulate their brains.

A Long Road Ahead:

While the OpenMIND project continues to garner funding and attention, with plans to morph into a test platform for myriad neurodegenerative diseases, Professor Jenny Emnéus warns that it might be a decade before this research transforms into a tangible treatment for patients.


In the complex tapestry of neurodegenerative research, the introduction of this brain model stands out as a hopeful thread. As scientists continue their journey, one thing is clear: the future of Parkinson's treatment is on the horizon, and it's shining brightly.

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