With all of the reports on artificial intelligence becoming less “artificial” flooding the news recently – from a robot passing a self-awareness test for the first time to scientists creating an artificial brain that can teach itself – we often forget that the world of DNA and genetic science is creating similarly strange things with the actual human brain.
Researchers now have potentially created the “most fully-formed” brain of a human to date – in a laboratory. The researchers used adult stem cells to create a brain that they say has 99% of the genetic material present in the same organ found in a 5 week old human fetus.
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A team of researchers from Ohio State University claims to have engineered a nearly fully-formed replica of a human brain from adult stem cells for the first time.
The eraser-sized brain contains 99 percent of the genetic material present in a human fetal brain. The only major missing component is a vascular system—which would require the construction of an artificial heart as well.
The brain currently contains a spinal cord, all major identifiable brain regions, signaling circuitry and a retina.
Considering the nature and limited efficacy of animal testing, the almost-brain is believed to be an ethical step forward.
Rene Anand, an Ohio State professor who helped create the brain, noted, “We’ve struggled for a long time trying to solve complex brain disease problems that cause tremendous pain and suffering. The power of this brain model bodes very well for human health because it gives us better and more relevant options to test and develop therapeutics other than rodents.”
Researchers expect the brain model to prove instrumental in studying neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and autism among others.
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