0438 GMT July 20, 2019
The nearly complete brain, about the size of a pencil eraser, was developed by scientists at The Ohio State University. The lab-grown brain, which has the maturity of a five-week-old fetus, is the most complete ever developed, The Independent reported Wednesday.
The brain-in-a-dish was engineered from adult human skin cells and contains 99 percent of the genes present in a fetal brain.
Rene Anand, the professor of biological chemistry and pharmacology at the university and the co-developer of the organoid, has expressed hope that the feat could help scientists studying developmental diseases and help them understand conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and autism.
Previously, scientists used mouse brains to explore human brain development. Although rodents share many common features with humans, the basic differences have been limiting research in the field.
“We’ve struggled for a long time trying to solve complex brain disease problems that cause tremendous pain and suffering. The power of this brain model bodes very well for human health because it gives us better and more relevant options to test and develop therapeutics other than rodents,” Anand said.
Converting adult skin cells into pluripotent cells – immature stem cells that can be programmed to become any tissue in the body – is a fast developing and promising domain of science.