The human brain is a miracle, really, isn’t it? It doesn’t make sense. It’s a big grey lump of flesh that somehow has the power to both run an entire human body and also “think”, which in itself is such an abstract concept that to focus any further discussion on it would result in perhaps the very destruction of said organ, right here in the office.
Anyway, nobody fully understands the brain - thereby revealing its only flaw: the brain does not understand the brain. But that’s not going to stop people trying - people with particularity good brains, brains so good that they are somehow able to create other brains. This is brains squared. So many brains, so little time. The brain in Brain falls mainly on the brain. Brain’s World.
Yep, neuroscientists from Tufts University in Massachusetts (not to be confused with Crufts University - the university for dogs) have actually managed to develop a working 3D model of a human brain, as reported in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.
Essentially, they’ve grown it from (strap yourself in: you will not understand any of this) cultures of ‘pluripotent’ stem cells, which are taken from human tissue and genetically modified to act like a real embryonic stem cell. Wipe up that dribble.
They then used a new silk protein material to fill in the space between the cells, before throwing everything in a collagen hydrogel, a sort of tissue-mimic type thing. And from all of that, the clever bods have created an actual, literal heap of functioning, living human tissue that acts like a brain, oh God we’re all going to die aren’t we.
This is what it looks like:
Sure, it doesn’t look exactly like a human brain, but it’s getting there - much better than the brain you made, mate.
But why? Why have they made a new brain? What could possibly be the purpose for such a reckless endeavour? Well, co-author William Cantley, (deep breath) Ph.D., 2018 graduate of the Cell, Molecular & Developmental Biology program at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts, says:
“The growth of neural networks is sustained and very consistent in the 3D tissue models, whether we use cells from healthy individuals or cells from patients with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
“That gives us a reliable platform to study different disease conditions and the ability to observe what happens to the cells over the long term.”
Well done, you’ll help people with brain disease, but do you not see what’s going to happen here? What the final outcome of this whole sorry affair shall be? The final destination of your nefarious experiments? It’s this, isn’t it, it’s absolutely this:
You fools! You’ve killed us all!
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(Image: Getty/Tufts University)