Sunday, May 26th, 2019

Scientists are Growing Brains in the Lab, Like 100’s of Brains

Published on October 22, 2016 by   ·   No Comments

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NaturalSociety

They could be further developed to think, feel like humans

No, this isn’t a Halloween gag. This sci-fi experiment is intended to help scientists understand disorders like autism and schizophrenia.

It’s not just Lancaster who is invested in growing human brains outside of the body. It’s a project being undertaken by scientists around the world.

The brains are created using skin cells, but they could be made from any type of cells. Lancaster explained:

“The brains develop in the same way you would see in an embryo.”

But instead of growing inside of a womb, the brains are cultivated in giant incubators. They must be fed a nutrient-rich fluid every few days in place of a blood supply. And because there is no immune system, everything that comes into contact with the disembodied organs must be sterilized with alcohol, first.

The brains don’t look the way you’re probably envisioning them. Instead, they resemble waterlogged popcorn floating in pale pink liquid. But the “cerebral organoids” are very similar to the brains inside of people. They are divided into grey matter made of neurons, and white matter – a fatty tissue composed of their spindly “tails.”

The cerebral organoids are also composed of specific regions, just like regular brains, complete with a wrinkled cortex (the part of the brain responsible for language and conscious thought), the hippocampus (home to emotion and memory), the muscle-coordination cerebellum, and many others.

The creations are the equivalent to the brains of 9-week-old fetuses.

Brain Building

The skin samples that Lancaster’s team uses to “build” the tiny brains are from donated skin, but as I mentioned earlier, they could be made from any of the body’s cells, even those from a toenail.

The skin cells must be turned into stem cells, as they are the only kind that can develop into all the body’s tissues. To do this, the team uses a protein serum that can turn back the clock and turn any cell back into an embryonic-like state.

Each stem cell eventually turns into a patchwork of various cell types, including brain cells.

The balls of cells are fed and well cared-for at first, until they are transferred to a new petri dish, at which point the scientists decrease their food. Most of the cells die off as they starve, leaving only the brain cells alive.

Read More HERE

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