Scientists have been working for years to improve their laboratory-produced organoids. These are simplified versions of human organs that can be used to test new drugs or other medical treatments.
A Japanese research team has developed a mini brain that displays not only the complex three-dimensional structure of the cerebral cortex but also the coordinated neuronal activity of Physics World . The development indicates that physicians can better investigate neurological conditions without having to cut human brains.
The mini brains were bred from cultured pluripotent stem cells – cells that were taken from an adult and then can become any type of cell cells. After growing a clump of brain cells, the team separated them and placed them one at a time in a Petri dish, where they automatically formed neural networks among themselves, as published in the journal Stem Cell Reports on Thursday. That is, the cells organized in a structure resembling the cerebral cortex.
"One of the most interesting features of these organoids is that they recapitulate the developmental process of the cerebrum in its shape," said Kyoto University geneticist Hideya Sakaguchi Physics World . "Their layered structure is very beautiful and looks exactly like actual brain tissue."
The brain is an amazing example of how good scientists manage to rebuild organs from scratch. According to the study, the artificial neurons behave like those in our brains, but they can never become conscious or grow into a complete organism.
Rather, the organ serves as a research tool that helps scientists gain a practical understanding of what's going on under the hood.
READ MORE: Mini-Neuronal Networks Imitate the Human Brain Physics World
More about Mini Brains: A The Laboratory Has a " Mini Brain "pulled out of the cells of this guy. Then it was funny.