Biologists Grow “Human Brain”. Fuss Expected.

This entry was posted by Thursday, 29 August, 2013
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Biologists working on brain



Austrian biologists grew human brain tissue out of stem cells. Which – if you don’t mind my saying it – was an amazingly dumb thing to do for a bunch of smart people. They didn’t know what the headline would be?


Seriously. They’re going to get unbelievable grief over this one. And it’s not like they didn’t see it coming. They went to some pains to suggest that the thing on their lab bench wasn’t  MUCH of a brain really.  “Nowhere near an adult human brain” More like in the first nine weeks of pregnancy. Pea-sized balls of white with “some of the complex features of a growing brain.”

What Jurgen Knoblich and his team accomplished (this is published in Nature Today, August 28, by the way) is scientifically very cool. They got brain tissue to self organize in some basic ways that have never been done before without nature directing the show.  How far they can push this has yet to be seen but, even at this early stage, they’re learning things that may help us understand what goes wrong in the beginning. Knoblich’s team hopes this work will provide an alternative to some animal experiments too.   Their “brain” is still primitive. It has no blood supply so very big pieces of it can’t be sustained. In other words, this is  complex tissue but  calling it a brain would be generous.

And foolhardy.

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That is my own brain. The drawing, I mean.


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