Transferable neuronal mini-cultures to accelerate screening in primary and induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons

Sci Rep. 2015 Feb 10;5:8353. doi: 10.1038/srep08353.


The effort and cost of obtaining neurons for large-scale screens has limited drug discovery in neuroscience. To overcome these obstacles, we fabricated arrays of releasable polystyrene micro-rafts to generate thousands of uniform, mobile neuron mini-cultures. These mini-cultures sustain synaptically-active neurons which can be easily transferred, thus increasing screening throughput by >30-fold. Compared to conventional methods, micro-raft cultures exhibited significantly improved neuronal viability and sample-to-sample consistency. We validated the screening utility of these mini-cultures for both mouse neurons and human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons by successfully detecting disease-related defects in synaptic transmission and identifying candidate small molecule therapeutics. This affordable high-throughput approach has the potential to transform drug discovery in neuroscience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Primary Cell Culture / methods*