Scientists at an Ohio State University lab claim they have grown the first-ever almost-fully formed human brain. The discovery has sparked hopes that the brain could be used to improve medical understanding of neurological disease. At the same time, the announcement has also raised concerns from other researchers who say data from the study should have been peer reviewed before it was released to the public.
According to The Guardian, Ohio State University, Columbus researcher, Rene Anand presented his work at the Military Health System Research Symposium, held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida earlier this week. Anand announced that the brain, which is roughly the size of a pencil eraser and engineered from adult human skin cells, is the “most complete brain model ever developed. About the size of a five-week-old fetus’ brain and not conscious, the mini brain could help scientists study the progression of developmental diseases and also test the efficacy of new drugs for brain diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinsons that affect regions of the brain in place during early brain development.
Anand says his team’s efforts have superseded previous attempts at growing whole brains, as earlier attempts were not complete and only had certain brain aspects. He says his team has managed to reproduce 99 percent of the brain’s cell types and genes, while even including a spinal cord.
When asked about ethical concerns around crafting a human brain in a lab, Anand said they weren’t a consideration. “We don’t have any sensory stimuli entering the brain,” he told The Guardian. “This brain is not thinking in any way.”
The Guardian notes that several researchers they contacted said it was difficult to determine the quality of Anand’s work without access to more data, which Anand isn’t revealing because he has a patent pending on the work. While he said the work sounds “very exciting,” Zameel Cader, consultant neurologist at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford said it’s hard to judge its impact. “When someone makes such an extraordinary claim as this, you have to be cautious until they are willing to reveal their data,” he said.
Via The Guardian