Lab-grown brain claim: Announcement without peer review is a red flag

August 25, 2015

News blip:

Have you seen this headline: Scientists grow first nearly fully-formed human brain in a lab.

Be skeptical.

Mini-brains 3 to 4 millimetres across have been grown in the lab before, but if a larger brain had been created ? and the press release publicizing the claim said it was the size of a pencil eraser ? that would be a major breakthrough. New Scientist investigated the claims.

The announcement was made by Rene Anand, a neuroscientist at Ohio State University in Columbus, at a military health research meeting in Florida.

Anand says he has grown a brain ? complete with a cortex, midbrain and brainstem ? in a dish, comparable in maturity to that of a fetus aged 5 weeks. Anand and his colleague Susan McKay started with human skin cells, which they turned into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) using a tried-and-tested method. By applying an undisclosed technique, one that a patent has been applied for, the pair say they were able to encourage these stem cells to form a brain.

But Anand hasn?t published his results. He?s quite confident so he chose not to. BIG MISTAKE. Scientists questioned by New Scientist were not impressed with the presentation and said that even though he may have grown some kind of miniature collection of cells, or ?organoid?, in a dish, which is not a first, the structure isn?t much like a fetal brain.

Source: Scientists reject claims of lab-grown mini human brain ? New Scientist

File this in your brain as ?Don?t believe the hype?.

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