Brain organoids have already shed light on the risk genes that contribute to autism1 and how Zika inhibits brain development;2 they can now be probed for electrical activity in a manner analogous to actual human brains.3 Organoids from other tissues have been used for drug screening,4 while “tumoroids” have yielded better cancer models.5 The future of personalised organoids offers a way to predict treatment outcomes, avoid toxicities and develop targeted therapies.
As yet, organoids remain primitive versions of real organs, crudely recreating their basic features and functions. However, advances in enabling technologies will soon allow them to become far more complex, with greater standardisation of procedures facilitating easily replicated results. With further advances, we should be able to use “embryoids” to observe post-implantation developmental events outside of the womb, making it possible to probe fundamental principles of human development and disease.6 We will also test tumoroids to find the exact medicine that will best kill tumours in the patient. Eventually, we may be able to generate organs for transplantation.7
Selection of GESDA best reads and further key reports
In 2018, Rossi et al published “Progress and potential in organoid research“ in *Nature Reviews Genetic*s, which closely examined the field's potential.8 Hans Clevers in “Modeling Development and Disease with Organoids“9 and Hofer & Lutolf in “Engineering Organoids” summarised the major technological trends and applications for organoids.10 In “3D Brain Organoids: Studying Brain Development and Disease Outside the Embryo”, Arlotta et al. compared the biology of brains and brain organoids, and highlighted experimental strategies for using organoids to attain new insights into human brain pathology.11 In “Cancer modeling meets human organoid technology” (2019), David Tuveson and Hans Clevers focused on cancer in a review of the current state and future prospects of the rapidly evolving tumor organoid field. In 2021, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published “The Emerging Field of Human Neural Organoids, Transplants, and Chimeras: Science, Ethics, and Governance.”12