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Scientists grow 'human brains' in laboratory

Posted on Thursday, 29 August, 2013 | Comment icon 12 comments

The tiny brains will help to find treatments for neurological disorders. Image Credit: CC 2.0 Andrew Mason
The miniature brains are the size of a pea and will be used to aid research in to neurological disorders.
Known as cerebral organoids, the tiny brains were grown using a complex process beginning with embryonic stem cells or adult skin cells. Droplets of gel were used to provide a scaffolding for the tissue to grow when combined with a special nutrient solution.

Researchers believe that the organoids, complete with many of the same regions as a fully developed brain such as the cerebral cortex and hippocampus, offer them a fairly accurate representation for the brain of a nine-week-old fetus.

"What our organoids are good for is to model development of the brain and to study anything that causes a defect in development," said researcher Dr Juergen Knoblich. "Ultimately we would like to move towards more common disorders like schizophrenia or autism. They typically manifest themselves only in adults, but it has been shown that the underlying defects occur during the development of the brain."

Source: BBC News | Comments (12)

Tags: Brain, Stem Cells

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by StarMountainKid on 28 August, 2013, 19:04
At first I thought this was pretty funny. "Miniature human brains grown in a lab". I thought, what's "The Enquirer" going to do with this story? Growing brains in laboratories. I'm sure in future someone will grow a complete human brain in a lab. It will probably have eyes, as the eye is considered part of the brain, and according to the article the mini brains can grow a retina. It will float in its bowl, looking around and wondering how it got there. All sorts of scenarios can be imagined, but I would feel sorry for the poor thing. On the other hand, it mig... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by seeder on 28 August, 2013, 20:24
if you took a child and left it in the wilderness with no human contact, the childs brain development is seriously messed up for a human that is. We have all heard tales of feral kids found in forests who cannot adapt to 'human' life very easy or communicate either. Now a brain, with no ears or eyes,or a body for physical stimulation, or even if it had eyes, wont be aware of itself as being a person, because its not. Nor will it have any learnings that may be construed as human either. So for people who get freaked out that its a 'human'.... really it isn't. Its human... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by StarMountainKid on 28 August, 2013, 22:56
This may be true. How could we know what's going on inside the brain? It might be self-aware without external stimulation. It might have pre-linguistic thoughts, intimations and intuitions even though it lives in isolation. It may develop a complex set of internal associations with meanings for itself. In fact, not experiencing external stimuli, these brains may come to conclusions impossible for us who have personalities. If we could link our brains to these brains, we might discover they have some valuable wisdom to teach us. I mean, how great is it to have a personality? Personal... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by Sundew on 29 August, 2013, 14:31
Hmm, a brain without thought. So many political jokes here, so little time.......
Comment icon #7 Posted by moonshadow60 on 29 August, 2013, 16:00
Lol, Sundew. We were thinking the same thing.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Sundew on 29 August, 2013, 16:10
Haha, some things are just too easy!
Comment icon #9 Posted by Aggie on 29 August, 2013, 16:30
I guess growing organoids from cells will help scientists study or learn more about our own organs and one day help fight certain horrible diseases. But then again there's that eternal ethical question of where do we set the boundaries....and that fear of this technology falling in the wrong hands.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Kludge808 on 29 August, 2013, 19:25
Great. Now they can mass produce them and surgically implant them in Congress critters. It would be a major step forward, a government that actually has a means to acquire intelligence. Edit to add: Yeah, I know it's been said in other words already but I just woke up and haven't yet started my 1st liter of coffee. Deal with it.
Comment icon #11 Posted by brlesq1 on 30 August, 2013, 19:07
I think it's a great development. Now if they can just keep the politics out of it...
Comment icon #12 Posted by Kludge808 on 30 August, 2013, 21:48
Yeah, we don't want politicians with brains. They may actually start thinking. There's a scary thought.

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