Our brain is the most complicated organ that nature has ever created. With over 100 billion nerve cells and many more contact points between them, it has capabilities that no supercomputer can match to this day.
The human brain’s complexity makes it an incredibly difficult object to study
Now, in a medical breakthrough scientists have successfully transplanted human brain cells into rat brains for studying neurodevelopmental disorders.
Researchers at Stanford University have transplanted human brain cells into rat brains, where the cells grew into hybridized brain circuits and then used them to influence rodents’ behavior.
It is an impressive step forward for neuroscience, where rat brains will serve as living laboratories for the study of mental disorders and brain development. It will allow researchers to perform experiments that are considered invasive or sometimes outright impossible to perform on humans.
“We can now study healthy brain development as well as brain disorders understood to take root in development in unprecedented detail, without needing to excise tissue from a human brain. We can also use this new platform to test new drugs and gene therapies for neuropsychiatric disorders,” said Sergiu Pasca, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford School of Medicine and corresponding author of the study published in the journal Nature, in a press statement.
Pasca describes this as the most advanced human brain circuitry ever built from human skin cells. The demonstration that implanted human brain cells could control and observe the effects on the rats’ behavior. It also opens up exciting new opportunities to accelerate our understanding of complex psychiatric conditions.