Mini human brains have been grown in a lab in hopes that scientists will be able to better understand neurological disorders.
According to The Wall Street Journal, researchers have used stem cells to grow pea-sized structures that resemble the developing human brain.
The lab-grown mini brains are far from perfect, and a long way from matching the real thing.
BBC News reported that the pea-sized structures have reached the same level of development as in a nine-week-old fetus, but they are incapable of thought.
“Scientists at Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences have now reproduced some of the earliest stages of the organ’s development in the laboratory.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that the mini brains are bout four millimeters in diameter and share some of the crucial three-dimensional architecture of a developing human brain.
“The different brain parts interact in a normal manner, though they aren’t necessarily in the proper places.”
Jürgen Knoblich at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and leader of the research team stated:
“It would be like a car with the engine on the roof, the gear box in the trunk and an exhaust pipe that points to the front.”
Even if all the parts aren’t exactly in the right spots, these mini brains are still one heck of an advancement.
According to The Wall Street Journal, this advancement is expected to allow researchers to investigate human brain disease in a lab.
Studies have been done with the use of mice and rats in the past, but these are inadequate considering the human brain is so much more complex.
Even though these mini brains have shown progress, there is still doubt whether they could grow and advance further, to give scientists a more complete structure.
Partial structures are better then nothing though. According to The Wall Street Journal, by examining the mini brains in the lab, Knoblich’s team was able to pinpoint some ways in which the disease develops.
These mini brains could be the next step into learning more about neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
[Image by rodrigo rodrigues via Youtube]