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December 12, 2019 - JSTOR Daily

Is It Ethical to Grow a Brain in a Petri Dish?

Is It Ethical to Grow a Brain in a Petri Dish?
Brain OrganoidCredit: National Institutes of Health

Brain organoids could be the key to understanding brain diseases, which is why we should think carefully about how far we are prepared to take them.

For Alexander Fleming, leaving a petri dish out in the air led to his now famous discovery of antibiotics. For Madeline Lancaster, leaving stem cells in a shaker led to the discovery of a new model for neuroscience: brain organoids. These blobs of tissue, grown from human stem cells, resemble some of the essential parts of the human brain. Although they are as small as apple seeds, brain organoids may hold the key to understanding one of life’s great mysteries: the human brain.

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