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Scientists replicate Alzheimer's in petri dish

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Posted at 10:40 AM, Oct 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-13 14:41:43-04

Scientists have taken a big step toward better understanding Alzheimer's disease by replicating it with brain cells in a petri dish.

Scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston managed to recreate the effects of Alzheimer's on brain cells by first using gel to foster the growth of networks with brain cells grown from embryonic stem cells, like ones you'd find in the brain. 

The scientists, led by Dr. Rudy Tanzi, then introduced the genes for Alzheimer's disease and saw as the two characteristic symptoms of the disease — plaques and tangles — developed.

Tanzi is widely recognized as a leading expert in the field of Alzheimer's research, having spearheaded the Cure Alzheimer's Fund's research efforts as well as researching the disease for more than 30 years.

Still, The New York Times reports the crucial idea — of growing the cells in gel — actually came from one of Tanzi's colleagues, Dr. Doo Yeon Kim.

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