About this Research Topic
A major obstacle in developing relevant brain disease models is access to the healthy and diseased brain tissue; it is generally recognized that the flat and hard substrates, regularly used for in vitro cell culture, are not representative of the cellular environment found in native tissues. Moreover, tissue structure, mechanical and biochemical cues and cell-cell crosstalk are deprived under these conditions. An alternative ex vivo strategy is found in three-dimensional cell cultures. Extensive research on tissue engineering techniques has provided sophisticated 3D scaffolds that resemble key features of the physiological tissues. A permissive and promoting milieu allows for the maintenance of a tissue-specific phenotype in cultured cells and the monitoring of transitions taking place in native diseased microenvironments. Engineered three-dimensional cultures are able to both answer fundamental questions, and have a strong impact on accelerating drug discovery. Current efforts aim at generating accurate and fast clinical tools that will serve to extend the access to human tissue models and lead to more efficient and personalized therapeutic options. In cancer research, these approaches have already prospered as a critical tool for effective, productive research, and extension of these approaches to other brain disease model systems is emerging. This technology holds great possibilities for patients with brain tumor, neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and neurodevelopmental disorders that affect emotion, learning ability, self-control, and memory.
Therefore, this Research Topic aspires to provide an opportunity for researchers from different disciplines to publish recent advances in the use of biomaterials in the recovery of brain function, as therapeutic agents, in neural regeneration, and as model platforms to improve understanding of the role of brain cell types and extracellular components in health and disease.
In addition to original research articles, reviews and opinion/perspective articles on promising future directions are welcome. We hope that this Research Topic will bring together researchers from different areas, such as polymer chemistry, material science, oncology, biotechnology, neuroscience, and engineering.
Keywords: Brain, Tumor, neurodegeneration, 3D cell culture, brain disease models
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.