With Alzheimer’s leading the way on a long list of brain-related diseases, scientists have long been trying to find ways to combat it. Unfortunately, their efforts have been unsuccessful until now, but scientists at the University of Cambridge in the UK have found a new way to help them study the disease’s development, which in theory will bring them to an eventual cure.
Don’t worry though, these scientists haven’t created a race of super smart battle sharks like the buffoons in Deep Blue Sea, they’ve just grown their own brain. Seems simple enough. According to Medical Xpress, the scientists behind this process took patients’ skin biopsies and “reprogrammed” those cells back through stem cells which allowed them grow cerebral cortex cells. Don’t worry if that went way over your head, this is genius level science.
Essentially, they can use this process to watch how a brain grows and can simulate diseases as the brain “wires up” so they can study what kind of effect each disease has on the brain’s development. For example, they can introduce a strain of Alzheimer’s into the brain and watch what happens without worrying about what a living patient is feeling.
Since this is happening overseas, they are having an easier time than scientists here in the states would have to conduct these experiments. The use of stem cells, specifically embryonic stem cells like the ones used in this study, is still a huge topic of controversy here in the States despite huge breakthroughs like this that will lead to millions of lives saved in the long run. Regardless, expect to hear more out of these studies within the next years as experiments progress.