Why test on animals when mini human brains are an option?
A trial at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health could help bring an end to archaic animal testing.
Researchers have successfully cooked up “mini brains,” balls of neurons which originate directly from humans. Stems cells are extracted and carefully programmed to create these miniature pseudo-brains measuring 350-micrometers in diameter (about the size of a fly’s eye, apparently). Not only is their use more ethical, but they are said to be more efficient and accurate as test subjects.
“95 percent of drugs that look promising when tested in animal models fail once they are tested in humans at great expense of time and money,” wrote Thomas Hartung, the study’s lead author.
Although he does not dismiss animal use altogether, Hartung emphasizes the fact that using rodents in human-focused drug and treatment trials is a fundamentally flawed approach. He says humans “are not 150-pound rats.” Maybe not clinically.
The team stated that the brains could be created using the cells of people suffering a wide variety of diseases like Parkinson’s, MS and Alzheimer’s. Then, tests and treatment trials for those same diseases could be revolutionized.
Now that’s using your brain!