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Home / Health / Stem cell-derived mini brains do not think, but they show "complex" neuronal activity, researchers say

Stem cell-derived mini brains do not think, but they show "complex" neuronal activity, researchers say



A preliminary study, published Thursday in the journal Stem Cell Reports, found evidence for dynamic activity of individual and synchronized neurons in a network of stem cell cerebral organoids.

Dr. Hideya Sakaguchi, a study author and postdoctoral fellow at Kyoto University (currently at the Salk Institute), said in an email that this was not just about creating a mini-brain, but that a nerve cell detection tool had been developed , One day, this new calcium ion analysis tool could help researchers better understand complex brain functions and neurological disorders.

For the new study, the researchers first created a ball of pluripotent stem cells that can develop into any type of body cells and tissue. They placed this ball in a bowl filled with a liquid medium that mimics the environment necessary for a developing brain. From here, the researchers studied the connections and activity between individual neurons.

For those who fear that the mini-brains have human-like properties (and thus represent ethical dilemmas), it is beyond question that the organoids are unable to perform advanced functions because they lack input from their environment Sakaguchi said. Consciousness requires subjective experience, and that only happens when information is received from probing, sensory tissues ̵

1; from those of the body.

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The new research is "not a big break". said Yi Zhou, a professor of biomedicine and neuroscience at Florida State University.
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Zhou, who was not involved in the study, said the researchers focused on recording the activity in isolated cells of the cerebral organoid instead to measure activity throughout the organoid. Although they have developed a new and interesting approach, their results do not contribute much to the field, he said. In addition, calcium ion activity is an indirect way to measure neuronal activity, whereas nerve cell burning research is a more direct and ultimately more accurate way to understand the functionality of a model mini brain.

Zhou said his own team's main focus is on producing "more sophisticated" and "complex" mini-brains that can "mimic human brains." To do this, they add various types of neurons and structures, such as a vascular system for oxygen and nutrients. Sometimes his 3D creations of cerebral organoids begin with cells from Alzheimer's patients "to see if they develop differently than a normal brain," he said. "Can we mimic pathological conditions?"

"The mini-brain is still underdeveloped, but eventually it will be a very useful approach to understanding the development of our brain and understanding human disease," Zhou said. "There is still a long way to go."


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