The successful growth of human brain cells in a dish already has some researchers pondering commercial applications
WASHINGTON - When a team of neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins Medical School made headlines this past May for establishing a colony of human neurons that divide and grow in a petri dish, they may have launched a new era on the business side - as well as the science side - of neurobiology.

The Johns Hopkins team, headed by Solomon Snyder, reported its achievement in the journal Science (248: 603, 1990). The advance, observers say, will allow researchers to better study the biochemistry and genetics of human brain tissue, since it allows them to manipulate cells over longer periods of time.

For investigators working in the field, the ability to grow neurons outside the body provides a powerful research tool. "It's a real leap forward," says Frederick Goodwin, head of the...

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