Scientists are in the process of developing a living model of the human brain.
Researchers at Aston University in Birmingham, UK are currently in the process of developing a new way to model how the human brain works – by making a living model of the human brain.
In order to create this representation of the brain, scientists are using cells that originally came from a tumor that have been reprogrammed so that they stop multiplying. Using the same methods that the body does to stimulate cell development, the cells are turned into the most basic units of the brain – co-cultures of nerve cells and astrocytes.
Explaining the process further, the co-cultures can be developed into neurospheres (tiny balls of cells), which can process information at a very basic level, similar to thoughts.
Professor Michael Coleman, who is leading the research, says: “We are aiming to be able to study the human brain at the most basic level, using an actual living human cellular system. Cells have to be alive and operating efficiently to enable us to really understand how the brain works. In the longer term we hope that our procedure can be used to help us understand how conditions such as Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases develop. At the moment, most people are only too aware that current treatments for these conditions do not halt their progress and often have side-effects. We hope that our technique will provide scientists with a new and highly relevant human experimental model to help us understand the brain better and develop new drugs and treatments to tackle neurodegenerative disease.”
The research for this project does not include testing on animals and has been supported since 2007 by Humane Research Trust.
Scientists hope that in the future these models could be used to develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s, Motor Neurone and Parkinson’s Disease.