Scientists from Ohio State University are now able to grow small brains for disease testing and other experiments.
“technically, they’re not quite “brains.” They’re called brain organoids — pieces of human tissue grown in petri dishes from skin cells.
These little blobs of tissue, 2-3 millimeters long, could help researchers test drugs and other treatments that may help prevent, fight and maybe even cure some of the most devastating disorders and diseases of our time.
In addition to Parkinson’s disease, autism and Alzheimer’s disease, they could also lead to unlocking the mysteries of schizophrenia, epilepsy, traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. Millions of people suffer from all these disorders and diseases worldwide.”
These mini brains are about the size of a small grape. Fortunately, the mini brains can be sampled and grown from any human cells, and then they are manipulated to transform into brain cells.
Emily Caldwell from Ohio State University reports the following:
“Converting adult skin cells into pluripotent cells – immature stem cells that can be programmed to become any tissue in the body – is a rapidly developing area of science that earned the researcher who discovered the technique, Shinya Yamanaka, a Nobel Prize in 2012.
‘Once a cell is in that pluripotent state, it can become any organ – if you know what to do to support it to become that organ,” Anand said. “The brain has been the holy grail because of its enormous complexity compared to any other organ. Other groups are attempting to do this as well.’ ”
Dr. Rene Anand and other scientists hope to eventually pump blood through the mini brains and develop a spinal cord as well for further experiments. In addition to the Ohio State University experiments, Brown’s University is also doing miniature brain experiments. They now have a process to grow the brains at a cost of 25 cents, making this research affordable. More information can be found at https://news.brown.edu/articles/2015/10/minibrain.