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An ethical line may have been crossed by neuroscientists who have created mini-brains from human tissue that can feel and may even suffer, experts have warned.
So-called organoids are blobs of lab-grown tissue cultivated from human stem cells to resemble tiny organs — in this case, the brain.
Mini-brains - Size - Peanut - Brainwaves - Babies
Although these mini-brains may only be the size of peanut, they have been observed to develop spontaneous brainwaves, not unlike those that seen in premature babies.
Organoids are considered a significant development in neuroscience, as they allow researchers to study brain tissue free of the usual constraints.
Simulacra - Disorders - Autism - Schizophrenia - Impact
These simulacra are used to investigate such disorders as autism and schizophrenia, and the impact of Zika virus on the development of brains in the womb.
They may also be helpful in the investigation of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Preterm Hypoxia and eye conditions like macular degeneration.
Line - Research - Organoids - Experimentation
The line between research on organoids and human experimentation, however, is unclear and remains to be established.
Elan Ohayon — director of the Green Neuroscience Laboratory in San Diego, California — and colleagues Ann Lam and Paul Tsang argue that checks need to be in place to stop organoids from enduring pain.
Possibility - Line - Dr - Ohayon - Guardian
'If there’s even a possibility of the organoid being sentient, we could be crossing [a] line,' Dr Ohayon told the Guardian.
'We don’t want people doing research where there is potential for something to suffer.'
Activity - Organoids - Activity - Animals
'We’re already seeing activity in organoids that is reminiscent of biological activity in developing animals,'
For example, in 2017, researchers from Harvard demonstrated that brain organoids can develop a wide variety of tissues — including cerebral cortex neurons to retinal cells.
Team - Organoids - Months - Networks - Light
Furthermore, the team found that organoids grown for eight months developed their own neural networks, which were found not only to be active but also capable of reacting when light was shone upon them.
Another study — this one conducted by...
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