Lab Grown Brains. Not creepy or anything like that at all, but scientists at Cambridge announced that they have grown a ‘miniature brain’ that seized control of biological material out in in a petri dish.
This is different than other previous lab-grown brains, like. chillingly different. The miniature brain sends out “tendrils” to connect to a mouse spinal cord, according to The Guardian
And wait for it…..it then used the spinal cord to control a mouse muscle attached to it.
The brain–described as a “lentil-sized grey blob of human brain cells,” by The Guardian described isnt only kindof cool nightmare fuel, but its also a profoundly significant advance because it seems to demonstrate some inherent function to connect to a crude nervous system.
Its creators are hoping that the little blog — and other organoids like it —to observe and possibly treat neural and brain disorders on a small scale lab environment..
“Obviously we’re not just trying to create something for the fun of it,” said study leader Madeline Lancaster in an interview with The Guardian. “We want to use this to model diseases and to understand how these networks are set up in the first place.”
According to reporting from the Guardian, the researchers estimate that the miniature lab grown brain has the basic sophistication of a human fetus between 12 and 16 weeks,
Which: wow. and we wonder where that places it in terms of fish brains or mole rat development…Would that be analagous to a two month old guppy brain? or a more developed mole rat fetus? And how does it compare to a week old fiddler crab?
But the comparison is meant to illustrate the underlying ethical argument. At what point do lab grown brains achieve sentience or legal personhood. Especially if they can make seeming decisions like connecting to external neural frameworks in order to be more functional— but the researchers don’t think that the lentil sized lab grown brain raises any of those ethical concerns yet, according to The Guardian.
“It’s still a good idea to have that discussion every time we take it a step further,” Lancaster told the newspaper. “But we agree generally that we’re still very far away from that.”
READ MORE: Scientists grow ‘mini-brain on the move’ that can contract muscle [The Guardian]