While stem cell research is a practice surrounded by controversy, it’s hard to deny the potential for medical advancement. With stem cells, scientists have grown hearts and livers. They even managed to give sight to a man who was blind.
But despite the numerous achievements, there was one area of the body that had proven a little too complex to grow in a lab. That is, until now.
Unlocking the Secrets of the Mind
The brain is the most complex organ in our bodies by far. With billions of nerves firing off signals to every part of the body, understanding the brain’s intricacy has proven to be quite a challenge.
But scientists are very determined.
Recently, a group of researchers in Europe managed to grown parts of the human brain using stem cells. To put it as simply as possible, these stem cells were put in a solution that promotes the growth of neural cells.
By putting some gel into the mix, the neural cells begin to grow around each other, forming brain structures called organoids. Though they might sound like an arcade game from the 80’s, these organoids took the identity of different brain regions such as the cortex.
Since the organoids aren’t surrounded by an actual anatomy, they can’t quite grow into a full, complete brain. But these pieces have still given them a lot to work with.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
By growing parts of the brain, they can better understand the brain itself. What helps it develop? What prevents it from properly functioning? These discoveries could lead to huge advances in fighting neuron malfunctions in living people.
Will they ever grow a full brain? Probably not.
For starters, it’s probably not possible. The brain needs other parts of the body to function. Also, there are simply too many ethical red flags when it comes to the idea of developing an actual human brain.
While the idea of growing pieces of the mind seems like something out of science fiction, it’s looking like this good do a lot of good.
What are your thoughts?