Laboratory Grown Brains!
At present we can not say that our knowledge about the human brain is sufficient and it would not be a lie to say that nobody knows what happens in the human head. So far many scientists have studied animal brains in order to find out more information about the human brain and nervous system at all, but it is not the same by obvious reasons.
Significant breakthrough has been made by Juergen Knoblich and his team at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in Vienna, Austria. They have grown successfully in their laboratory tiny structures of human brains. To do so the team used cells specially reprogrammed to behave like embryonic stem cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). The iPS cells were seeded into proper environment with sufficient nutrients where they formed a tissue which normally would become an embryonic nervous system. The tissue was then suspended in a gel with the purpose to form 3D structures.
The iPS cells needed nearly a month to grow into 3-4 mm wide structures named “organoids” which corresponded to many brain areas. All organoids had parts of the cortex, 70% had choroid plexus (responsible for spinal fluid production), and even retinal tissue was represented in about 10%.
Team member Madeline Lancaster noted that these cells have the impressive ability to self-organize if they’re provided with the required nutrients.
The research led to discovering a probable cure for a genetic disease called microcephaly – condition where fetal brain doesn’t grow normally and doesn’t reach usual size. The team grew cells from a person with such disease and found that this condition is due to a lack of a protein indexed with CDK5RAP2. By adding this protein artificially, the number of neurons in the microcephalic organoids was increased.
However, we have to consider that the organoids grown in the IMB laboratory are not a fully functional, conscious brain. Growth of such brain is considered impossible at the moment and it would be much harder, but despite this fact the results achieved by the researchers are a significant breakthrough in the process of gathering knowledge for the human brain and may lead to successful therapy for many diseases that are considered incurable at the moment.via:[newscientist.com]