AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Can Scientists Create a Brain?


attributed to hawkexpress

attributed to hawkexpress

The brain is one of the few things that scientists struggle to understand. For now, the only brain models you could find is one made of plastic or rubber. In a recent study, Viennese scientists Madeline Lancaster and Jürgen Knoblich have created “cerebral organoids”. These “cerebral organoids” are neural balls, about the size of a BB pellet. It is the most complex brain structure that has been created in a lab.

The scientists that created this placed cells in a nutrient broth for two months. After this time, the cells specialized into neurons that can be found in distinct parts of a developing brain such as  hippocampus, retina and choroid plexus, which produces cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. Although they look like clumps of tissue, the “cerebral organoids” had “discrete parts of the cerebral cortex, the outer sheet of the human brain that’s responsible for advanced thought processes.” The organoids also sent electrical messages and some groups of young neutrons moved from one place to another, an activity necessary to populate a brain with neurons. Also found abundantly in this tissue was a stem cell called radial glial stem cells, which is important to keep the number of neurons growing.

In order to create the organoids, the scientist must take human stem cells either from an embryo or from adult skin samples altered to an embryo-like state. The cells grow for a few days in a dish and medium and then moved to a nutrient broth to grow neuroectoderm tissue, the tissue that makes the beginnings of a brain. Then, the researchers inject the cells into a gel that gives a strict,”scaffold” to grow on. The final and most important step was to place the gel droplets into spinning flasks with nutrients. This was important because the “spinning motion distributed oxygen and nutrients to all of the cells in the organoid”  After two months, the cells stopped growing. Although they are still alive, they stop dividing and reach maximum size.

This research gives a very important window into the study of the brain, especially the study of brain development.  Although this information is groundbreaking, the organoids lack many important systems that the brain has.

Helpful links


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Coral Reef Bleaching Puts Fish’s Ability to “Just Keep Swimming” in Danger


Decoy Protein Boosts Bone Growth


  1. segolene

    Wow! Great article! It was intresting to read that scientists have been able to create “cerebral organoids”, which are neural balls, the most complex from of the brain that scientists have created. It was even more fascinating to read that the organoids also sent electrical messages and some groups of young neutrons moved from one place to another. Do you wonder whether scientists could possibly stimulate genes and their reactions with the brain? I ask this because I was able to read about the microglia gene, which is found in the brain. Researchers have found that this gene is used by the brain’s immune system to sense pathogenic organisms, toxins, and damaged cells. Replicating this type of gene would require immense knowledge of the brain as well as high technology! Check out this video!

  2. pat

    Cool topic melman! I think it is interesting that scientists would try to recreate a part of the brain that would later develop other parts of the brain. And it is too bad that stem cell research is illegal, otherwise I feel like this would be done much easier. Maybe they can use a 3D printer! I know this sounds improbably but they were able to do it with part of a human face!
    Check it out:

  3. termitelover

    Nice to see progress in one of the final frontiers we have yet to understand, the brain. This really does show our progress as a race and i only wonder how long it will take until we can completely understand this extremely complex clump of tissue. Interesting post. This article from the Wall Street Journal shows more about the questions we have regarding the brain.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Skip to toolbar