Imagine your brain in a petri dish. Imagine your brain forming its own network and processing information outside of your body. Imagine a few of your brain cells called organoids or more commonly known as “minibrains reproducing and processing information that could potentially heal itself and prevent brain disease.
Scientists are using organoids to study the earliest phase of human brain at its first signs of electrical activity or brain wave production. These studies help researchers learn when conditions such as schizophrenia and autism begin to develop in the brain. If scientists can help the brain to redevelop outside the human body, then that opens the door for more effective treatments for diseases and traumatic brain injuries.
Scientists at the University of California, San Diego observed organoids over several months and noticed electrical activity and growth of the cells. The behavior simulated that of a premature infant’s brain and appeared the size of a pea. Scientists are studying biological behavior of the brain before it is affected by brain ailments such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
These breakthroughs are in the very early stages and will have to go through a series of ethics reviews and regulations before they are able to treat patients. Scientists are continuing their studies to determine if the organoids can develop pain sensitivity and respond to other stimuli. The human brain has not been duplicated but the goal here is to be able to understand how disease of the brain work in order to better treat them.
The National Institute of Health will continue to monitor the studies and ensure strict ethical guidelines are adhered to during the study and potential implementation of clinical trials. It is important that the integrity of the study remains intact and that patients’ rights are protected. The further development of these studies is extremely impactful. It is imperative that science continues make strides in the treatment of brain diseases and traumatic brain injuries.