Human brain organoids flourish in the heads of mice


Human brain tissue integrates and thrives in the brains of mice, according to a report in Nature Biotechnology. Using brain organoids created from human pluripotent stem cells, scientists transplanted them into mice. The organoids developed blood vessels within 5 days; by 90 days after implantation, axons had extended deep into the brains of the mice. The neurons were firing in synchronised patterns, suggesting that an active neural network had been established.

The integration of human brain cells into the brains of mice obviously raises delicate ethical questions about the creation of interspecies chimeras. However, the scientists tested the mice and found no difference in their intelligence.

“It brings up some pretty interesting questions about what allows us, ethically, to do research on mice in the first place — namely, that they’re not human,” Josephine Johnston, a bioethicist at The Hastings Center, commented last year. “If we give them human cerebral organoids, what does that do to their intelligence, their level of consciousness, even their species identity?”

If this line of research succeeds, the organoids could be very useful in studying brain diseases and could even be used to repair damage cause by traumatic brain injuries, strokes, and other neurological conditions.




MORE ON THESE TOPICS | brain organoids, neuroethics

This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

 
 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed

 
comments powered by Disqus